This Is a Different Kind of Protest

German farmers use their tractors to block traffic in protest of proposed cuts to diesel subsidies
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 9, 2024 1:14 PM CST
This Is a Different Kind of Protest
Farmers drive in a convoy with their tractors near Wiesbaden, Germany, on Monday.   (Arne Dedert/dpa via AP)

Farmers blocked highway access roads and snarled traffic in parts of Germany on Monday with their tractors, launching a week of protests against a government plan to scrap tax breaks on diesel used in agriculture. Chancellor Olaf Scholz's unpopular three-party coalition infuriated farmers last month by drawing up plans to abolish the diesel tax breaks, as well as a car tax exemption for farming vehicles. The proposals were part of a package to fill a $18.6-billion hole in the 2024 budget, reports the AP.

The government climbed down partially last week, saying that the car tax exemption would be retained and the cuts in the diesel tax breaks would be staggered over three years. But the German Farmers' Association said it was still insisting on the plans being reversed fully and would go ahead with a "week of action" starting Monday. In some areas, farmers used tractors to block entry roads to highways. Notably, several hundred tractors and other vehicles gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

The protests are under scrutiny after a group of farmers on Thursday prevented Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from disembarking a ferry in a small North Sea port as he returned from a personal trip to an offshore island. That incident drew condemnation from government and opposition figures and the farmers association. Authorities have warned that far-right groups and others could try to capitalize on the protests. Farmers association chief Joachim Rukwied told RBB Inforadio on Monday that "we will ensure we are not infiltrated" by such groups. Of the government's partial climbdown, Rukwied said: "This is absolutely insufficient. We can't carry this additional tax burden."

(More Germany stories.)

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