More than 5,000 tractors and 10,000 German farmers shut down Berlin on Tuesday (26 November) as part of nationwide protests against the government.
The demonstration was organised by Land schafft Verbindung (Countryside Creates Connection), DBV – the German Farmers’ Association and the alliance Forum Natur.
Farmers are furious about government proposals to phase out and ban the weedkiller glyphosate by 2023, and tighter regulations on the use of fertilisers and slurry to reduce nitrate content in groundwater.
They have also raised serious concerns about EU plans to reduce direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from 2021 and link payments more closely to environmental measures.
There is concern the policy will bankrupt hundreds of family farms.
The German Gilets Jaunes? Farmers heading to Berlin in more than 5000 tractors in the early morning today to protest against government's agricultural policies.According to leading activists the movement is organised via social media +connects about 100.000 followers #Bauerndemo pic.twitter.com/0bOqNArOXr
— Julian Göpffarth (@JGopffarth) November 26, 2019
DBV said it also fears the fallout for domestic agriculture over the EU-Mercosur trade deal with South America’s economic bloc.
Tractors staged go-slow protests as they headed to Brandenburg Gate. Some carried banners saying: “No farmers No food No future”, “Good local food only at fair prices” and “We will fill you up”.
The farmers believe they are being singled out as “the bad guy” by environmentalists and criticism is damaging the profession and the ability to attract new entrants.
Germany’s environment minister Svenja Schulze addressed an angry crowd of farmers at the Berlin protest, saying she was willing “ready for a dialogue”.
But she added: “In the case of challenges such as nitrate pollution or species loss we have to work together, not against each other.”
Germany’s agriculture minister Julia Klöckner stressed that EU directives on nitrate pollution and insect killing “could not be left out”.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to hold a meeting with representatives of around 40 farming organisations to discuss the crisis next Monday (2 December).
Last month, thousands of Dutch farmers drove their tractors to The Hague to protest against the “negative image” of farming in the Netherlands.