Thousands of farmers across Germany have staged protests against the government’s plans to cut diesel subsidies and tax breaks for agricultural machinery. The farmers say these measures would cost them up to €1 billion and threaten their livelihoods.
The protests began on Monday, when hundreds of tractors blocked the streets of Berlin, near the Brandenburg Gate. The farmers demanded to meet with the leaders of the three-party coalition government, which is facing a budget crisis after a constitutional court ruling in November.
The farmers rejected an offer from Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir, a member of the Green Party, to have a dialogue with a small group of representatives. Özdemir criticized the government’s decision to scrap the diesel subsidies and tax breaks, saying they overburdened the farmers who had no alternative to diesel.
The protests continued on Tuesday, with farmers blocking traffic and highways in various cities and regions, including Bonn, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria. The farmers vowed to escalate their actions if the government did not withdraw the proposed cuts.