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Close to nature: Farmer in a wheat field. Stock photo from Pexels

German farmers protest against agricultural package

Farmers from all over Germany have announced protests against the Federal government's agricultural package for Tuesday.

Published: October 22, 2019, 1:24 pm

    The central demonstration will take place at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Bonn. The rally at 11 o’clock on the Bonn Cathedral Square is expected to attract between 8 000 and 10 000 participants. In other German cities, too, farmers want to take to the streets because they no longer want to be the “traitors of the nation”.

    For example, protests are planned in Munich, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Würzburg, Münster, Magdeburg and Rostock. In Brandenburg, 600 police officers are to be deployed to escort a tractor rally to Berlin. The agricultural machinery will be traveling on the highways due to an exemption on the convoy.

    The initiative “Land creates connections”, a grassroots movement of farmers who organise their actions independently of the professional associations, will also take part. More than 30 000 farmers currently belong to the initiative, which has formed mainly through social networks.

    “One reason for this movement is, for example, the bashing of farmers,” Henriette Struß told the magazine Land und Forst. The young farmer from Barsinghausen near Hannover is one of the co-organisers of the protests. She says they were all “tired of being held responsible for almost all aberrations”.

    Her colleagues also see themselves as a “bogeyman of politics and many NGOs”, ie non-governmental organisations such as environmental or consumer associations, according to a call for the demo. The permanent negative sentiment “leads to anger and frustration in the profession”, meanwhile “discrimination and bullying of relatives were part of the agenda”.

    This endangers the future of rural family farms and thus of rural areas.

    For example, farmers are unjustly unilaterally blamed for increased levels of nitrate, phosphate, or nitrogen in groundwater. In actual fact, however, the whole society pollutes waters and the environment, for example through sewage treatment plants. “No one demands that people go to the bathroom less, but we should fertilize if necessary”, another co-organiser of the demonstration in Hannover pointed out. In this regard, they called for a “fair deal” and “science instead of ideology – with fertilizers and with diesel”.

    There, some of the protesters do not want to go to the rally site, but gather at the entrance to the pedestrian zone near the central station. They plan “not only a pure farmers’ event with own speakers far away from the public, but would like to be visible in the middle of the city and enter directly into discussion with the consumer”.

    In addition to the agricultural package, the agricultural representatives are also turning against the Mercosur trade agreement between the EU and South American countries. This would jeopardize “the supply of safe, high-quality and tested food from the region” through cheap prices of imported goods.

    “Loud but peaceful” is the motto of the protesters. Unlike in some other similar events in France, the German farmers want to renounce riots. “Our arguments far too good for that”, one of the organisers said in a video message to members.

    Very important is also the announcement to leave the venue even cleaner than it was found. “We take our garbage with us, we are not Fridays for the Future,” say the farmers. In society, one should set a the tone about “where the true conservationists come from”.

    The suffering in the industry is great. “3 to 12 – Farmers in Need” is the motto of a protest group from southeastern Lower Saxony. A West German co-organiser raised the mood in view of the impending agrarian package with similar clarity: “If we do not stop it now, we are lost!”

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