German farmers are enraged at proposed diesel subsidy cuts and taxes directly affecting them. They say these could cost them up to €1 billion. The government says the cuts are needed to balance the country’s 2024 budget.
Farmers from across Germany descended upon Berlin on Monday, with hundreds of tractors converging on the city’s famous Brandenburg Gate under the motto, “Too much is too much!”
Farmers are angry about the federal government’s decision to scrap diesel fuel subsidies as well as the negation of tax breaks for the purchase of agricultural and forestry machinery.
According to the German Farmers’ Association, those changes could cost farmers up to €1 billion (roughly $1.1 billion).
The coalition government has justified the move by pointing to the need to plug a €17 billion hole in the country’s 2024 budget after the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled it was unconstitutional for Berlin to reallocate funds originally earmarked for coronavirus aid for other purposes.
Berlin said the court’s decision had made it imperative to cut climate-damaging subsidies.
Farmers promise ‘massive resistance’
Green Party Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir was among those criticizing the government’s approach, saying farmers have “no alternative” to diesel, adding “farmers are the ones who supply us with food, these cuts overburden the sector.”
Finance Minister Christian Lindner as well as Economy Minister Robert Habeck have both signaled a willingness to hear out farmers but claim they have little room to maneuver after the Karlsruhe ruling.
Farmers are now seeking to send a “first clear signal” to Berlin’s three-party governing coalition that it needs to drop the planned cuts.
Farmers’ Association President Joachim Rukwied said, “if not, there will be massive resistance from January. We will not put up with this.”
Habeck said anyone seeking to reverse cuts was obliged to present an acceptable means of financing them.
Although agricultural earnings had been on the rise, falling grain, oilseed and milk prices have all begun to eat into profit margins.