Farmer rally paralyzes Berlin city center in massive protest against government’s net-zero policies

The protest, led by farmers and drawing over 30,000 participants, including representatives from various industries, responded to the government's plan to phase out agricultural fuel subsidies and address escalating costs affecting multiple sectors.

Farmer rally paralyzes Berlin city center in massive protest against government’s net-zero policies
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi
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Farmers and allied blue-collar workers have accelerated demonstrations in Germany, paralyzing the capital of Berlin in a show of force with thousands of farming vehicles.

Berlin's city center was brought to a standstill as thousands of tractors, joined by a diverse range of vehicles from trucks to forklifts, converged on the government quarter.

The protest, spearheaded by farmers and attracting over 30,000 participants, including representatives from various industries, was a response to the government's plan to phase out agricultural fuel subsidies and escalating costs affecting multiple sectors.

Joachim Rukwied, the president of the German farmers’ union, voiced the agricultural community's concerns, urging the government to reconsider its decision to eliminate fuel subsidies, a move he warned could lead to widespread bankruptcy among farmers.

“The government has the ability to change this,” he said to protesters at Brandenburg Gate. “This much is too much. Take back the proposals.”

“Thousands and thousands of farmers, truckers and other hard working citizens took to the strets of Berlin today to remind their government and the globalists of one simple thing: ‘We are The People and we are taking back control,’” wrote Eva Vlaardingerbroek in her coverage of the protest on X. “This is just the beginning.”

Finance Minister Christian Lindner faced a hostile reception as he attempted to address the rally. Amidst boos and whistles, Lindner recognized the legitimacy of the protest and admitted that the discontent went beyond the diesel subsidy issue, hinting at deeper, long-standing grievances.

“Your protest is legitimate and your protest is peaceful,” said Lindner, offering words that went largely unheard above the roar of the crowd, the Guardian reported.

The demonstration in Berlin was the climax of a week-long series of protests across Germany, drawing support from workers in various fields, from tradespeople to the hospitality industry. These groups have been vocal about their struggles with high energy costs, excessive bureaucracy, and insufficient government consultation.

The protest's reach extended beyond Berlin, with smaller-scale demonstrations occurring nationwide, causing disruptions to major transport routes. The protest also targeted commercial giants like Amazon and Aldi, reflecting broader dissatisfaction with government policies.

Controversy arose as the populist party Alternative für Deutschland was accused of fueling the protest's intensity through its critical stance against the government, with banners and speeches at the rally echoing the party's accusations.

Demands for governmental dissolution and new elections were prominent among the protesters, who expressed their frustration through slogans emphasizing the critical role of farmers and transportation in Germany's future, such as “Empty tanks — the game’s over” and “Without farmers there’s no future.”

About 1,300 police officers were present at the rally. Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir acknowledged the communication failures regarding policy changes and emphasized the importance of engaging with the agricultural sector. The protest succeeded in highlighting crucial issues such as the vital role of farmers in the food supply chain.

In a dramatic show of dissent, some protesters arrived with manure-laden vehicles intending to dump their loads at the Bundestag. However, last-minute negotiations between police and organizers prevented this action.

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  • By Sheila Gunn Reid

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