German farmers protest government’s ‘net-zero’ fanaticism

On January 4, the German government announced it would roll back an earlier proposal to scrap the carbon tax exemption for farming vehicles and tax breaks on diesel all at once. They expect a 40% cut this year, and an additional 30% cut in 2025 and 2026, prompting fierce protests.

German farmers protest government’s ‘net-zero’ fanaticism
Fabian Sommer/dpa via AP
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A convoy of German farmers is the latest in Europe to protest the carbon tax and other unwarranted attacks on agriculture by government charlatans.

On January 4, the German government announced it would roll back an earlier proposal to scrap the carbon tax exemption for farming vehicles including additional tax breaks for diesel used in agriculture.

The unpopular decision to end farmer subsidies last year followed a court ruling to annul the reallocation of unspent COVID aid totaling $66 billion USD. The maneuver fell afoul of Germany’s strict self-imposed limits on running up debt, reported the Associated Press. 

In December, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s three-party coalition government agreed to a budget revamp. Budget 2024 will instead run an $18.6 billion USD deficit. 

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck and Finance Minister Christian Lindner agreed Thursday to maintain the agriculture exemption and not phase out carbon tax breaks on diesel all at once. They expect a 40% cut this year, and an additional 30% cut in 2025 and 2026.

Both Habeck and Lindner said their plan gives farmers "more time to adapt" to long-term climate objectives.

However, Hermann Blinkert of the German Institute for New Social Answers (INSA), told Reuters the roll back does not undo the trust it "already gambled away." He said: "Only one in three voters would currently elect one of the three governing parties."

The pro-farmer, Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is currently polling at 23%, according to the weekly INSA poll. They sit comfortably ahead of the governing Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and its partners, the Greens and the Free Democrats — all of whom have different budget priorities amid a debilitating recession.

Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir, who condemned cutting the carbon tax exemption in full, welcomed the maneuver in a bid to save face with farmers.

"We have found a good solution that averts a disproportionate burden of agriculture — you know I always warned against that," he told reporters, citing no reasonable alternative to diesel in the near future.

However, thousands of German farmers have called for continued demonstrations this month, claiming the government does not go far enough with its carbon tax suspension. The German Farmers’ Association said Thursday it would stick to its planned protests.

"This can only be a first step," its chairman, Joachim Rukwied, penned in a statement. "Our position is unchanged: Both proposed cuts must be taken off the table."

With many at their wit's end, farmers have resumed their efforts to block major roadways with tractors. According to Reuters, reports of some protesters clashing with police have emerged.

Tensions remain elevated after the Reichstag bumped up its carbon tax more than expected from $33 USD to $49 USD, instead of $44 USD before the budget revamp. It is expected to impact prices for gasoline, diesel, natural gas and heating oil. 

Farmers say the tax breaks currently save them about $980 million USD annually, and that their removal 'unfairly burdens them' and will 'drive them out of business.'

"No beer without farmers," read one protest banner. Another said, "Our farmers come first."

"For a farm like mine, I would lose about 10,000 euros," said a farmer from Bavaria, Ralf Huber. "For our businesses, it's a catastrophe."

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  • By Sheila Gunn Reid

PETITION: Stop The War On Farmers

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