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German Farmers Sowing Some Discontent – HotAir

This has been festering for a while – ever since the Greens outsmarted themselves by trying to roll over COVID emergency funds into the the regular budget. But with the ruling from the German Supreme Court on November 15th that Greens could no longer constitutionally touch that €60M they’d already worked into that very same budget, some mad slicing and dicing went on among the 3 disparate parties that make up Olaf Scholz’s warring coalition.

As I said at the time, everything the Germans touched was coming up fahrvergnügies. Unfortunately, good portion of those funds had gone for subsidies to keep German peasants and businesses if not exactly happy about the skyrocketing utility costs of their collective forced march to a Green transition, at least it helped take some of the sting out of it. Worse, the European Union was piling on by applying pressure to stop paying subsidies completely – just throw the populace at large into the wonder of living in a renewable nirvana in one fell, painful swoop. Brussels is pretty convinced the peasants will get over it when they don’t have a choice.

Cut that cord now.

…the European Union itself is putting more and more pressure on their bigger members to cut energy subsidies, period.

Brussels has called on several member states to stop subsidising companies’ and households’ energy costs, claiming the measures to curb the crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine soon risked breaching EU budget guidelines.

…Under countries’ current plans, Germany, Portugal, Malta, France and Croatia should curtail the support unveiled in the spring of 2022 after energy prices surged following the breakdown of relations between Russia, a major source of European gas and oil, and member states.

The European Commission said in the case of the first three their measures should be removed “as soon as possible”.

The immediate consequences of the budget negotiations was a paring back of a fair amount of Green schemes, even as they mouthed platitudes about maintaining the transition timeline to ruining every middle class life, and finalizing the complete deindustrialization of the German economy.

But it’s not just industry who had been feeling the brunt of the climate cultists, and suddenly would be paying an even higher price. Germany’s farmers have been under assault for years, and the current restrictions along with insane fertilizer prices coupled with maddening shortages since 2022 have only served to exacerbate the difficulties. Then came the end of the budgetary razzle-dazzle, and – after a month’s worth of frantic negotiations – subsidies for EV car buyers died…waah, right?

They also did away with the agricultural diesel subsidies farmers could claim and depended on, as well as special licensing fees for agricultural and forestry vehicles..

…Germany’s government faced calls on Sunday to help farmers and car buyers by revisiting cuts forced upon it by a court ruling which blew a 60 billion euro ($65 billion) hole in its budget.

A coalition move to end subsidies for agricultural diesel drew criticism from Green lawmaker and agriculture minister Cem Ozdemir and from legislators belonging to Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s business-friendly Liberals.

…With limited financial leeway, the three coalition parties, constrained by differing views on fiscal rectitude and government spending needs, took weeks to agree a replacement.

There was even a teensy bit of sympathy for farmers once you factored in what their contribution to the country as a whole was compared to EVs.

…Ozdemir earlier said the only alternative to keeping the subsidy for agricultural diesel was closing farms. The agriculture minister will himself speak at a farmers’ protest demonstration in Berlin on Monday.

“Car drivers can switch to electric but heavy agricultural machinery can’t do that yet,” he said.

And we have to eat.“

Ya think?

Well, that unleashed the first round of farmers on tractors storming the Brandenburg Gate in mid-December, not to mention a huge wave of pretty universal opprobrium aimed squarely at the Scholz government.

Just days after German leaders claimed to have resolved the country’s budget crisis, cracks emerged in the three-party compromise as thousands of farmers took to the streets of Berlin on Monday to protest a plan to remove key tax privileges.

A convoy of 1,700 tractors blocked the main road leading to the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, where thousands of farmers demonstrated against a government proposal to end their tax breaks on fuel and agricultural vehicles. The government wants to introduce the tax increases, which the farmers say would cost the sector about €1 billion per year, to help plug a €17 billion hole in its 2024 budget.

“Today we have sent a clear signal to the federal government: Withdraw the tax increases for agriculture,” Joachim Rukwied, a farmer from Baden-Württemberg who serves as president of the German Farmers’ Association, told POLITICO at the demonstration. “Enough is enough, it must be withdrawn. This policy must come to an end, otherwise a change of government is necessary.”

The farmers’ biggest worry is that the tax increases will force many in the sector, which already faces razor-thin margins, into bankruptcy. That risk is not lost on their allies in the German parliament, even those who belong to the governing coalition.

“There’s a limit to what we can ask of our farmers,” said Johannes Schätzl, an SPD MP from Bavaria, adding that the current plan “clearly exceeds the boundary.”

By the 4th of January this year, the hue and cry had become so overwhelming that the government had backed off the immediate implementation, working out a compromise plan amongst themselves that gradually reduced the tax break. The coalition negotiators were happy with it.

…The gradual phase-out of agricultural diesel subsidies, the postponement of a plastic levy and additional funds for the national railway were among the changes the government announced on Thursday following an agreement between Scholz, Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Finance Minister Christian Lindner.

We have been talking to each other intensively again in the last few days because we can see the burden on farmers,” Habeck said.

“Counter-financing has been found” for the amended plan, he added.

Rather than abruptly ending the farmers’ tax break on agricultural diesel, the subsidy will be reduced by 40% this year, by 30% in 2025, and will end from 2026.

The abolition of preferential treatment in vehicle tax for forestry and agriculture is also no longer planned, the government spokesperson said.

Probably should have run it by the “agricultural” sector before patting themselves on the back, as opposed to “talking intensively to each other again.” Farmers were far from mollified.

A group absolutely incensed at the government arrived at a ferry dock where Minister Habeck – one of my favorite Bond villains – was returning from a vacation. They quickly let him know they weren’t at all pleased with what the ruling coalition had decided was going to happen.

It got pretty damn intense, and everyone from the Farmers’ Union to their own allies in the coalition condemned the action.

Adding to farmers’ frustration and sense of desperation was another round of heavy flooding across the breadth of the country. They didn’t need another thing kicking their teeth in.

While most Germans were celebrating the new year, farmer Dirk Reinecke was frantically getting his three tractors ready to go and bring in 150 tons of potatoes before they rotted in the floods. That would have meant the loss of his entire winter harvest.

Reinicke and other farmers in Lower Saxony, northwestern Germany, have been working nonstop for days, helping to seal off dikes from the floods. “I’m 58 years old and I’ve never experienced a flood like this before,” Reinecke told DW. “We normally see some flooding every four to five years. But we’ve never had water levels in the village as high as they are now.”

And now a front with predicted low temps around 3°F is moving in right behind the floodwaters.


Cooler heads were needed for what was being planned for this week. The tractors started to pour into Berlin and other cities last night for a week of strikes.

As of this morning, there were already 600 tractors and thousands of farmers lined up on the road in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, with even more supporters rallying to them, as well as coordinated demonstrations across the country.

It was gridlock across Germany by early this morning.

…Police reported blockades and major traffic disruptions due to slow-moving tractor convoys from the early morning hours across Germany.

Authorities in the rural northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania said all of its autobahn ramps were impeded.

Farm equipment blocked the centres of cities including Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Bremen, with up to 2,000 tractors registered for each protest.

It won’t be just the agriculture sector, either.

Angry farmers opposed to government’s plans to cut tax breaks for agriculture used tractors to block roads across Germany on Monday, kicking off a series of strikes that are set to plunge the country deeper into a winter of discontent.
In Berlin, dozens of tractors and lorries stationed in the city centre blasted their horns to signal their anger at the start of a planned week of action.

Workers in sectors across Germany, from metallurgy and transport to education, have turned to industrial action in recent weeks.

Wage negotiations have taken a bitter turn as Europe’s biggest economy struggles with weak growth and households contend with sharply increased prices.

Rail workers will be next to walk out on Wednesday, launching a three-day strike as unions seek a pay rise to compensate for months of painfully high inflation.

“We are exercising our basic right to inform society and the political class that Germany needs a competitive agricultural sector,” German Farmers Association (DBV) president Joachim Rukwied told Stern magazine.

And all the while, there’s the specter of the “far-right” bogeyman constantly being invoked (and in some cases minimally present) in an attempt to discredit the anger finally boiling to the surface at the ruinous policies of Angela Merkel’s legacy, Scholz’s coalition and the Green movement.

Scholz and his triumvirate of catty partners may not make it intact to the next national elections.

They could well be in final crisis territory long before that.

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