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Farmers arrive on their tractors at the Brandenburg Gate to protest against planned cuts to state subsidies that bring down their fuel costs on December 18, 2023 in Berlin, Germany.Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — Tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets all over Germany, temporarily blocking streets and highways during the large-scale farmers’ protests in response to the government’s plan to cut subsidies. 

On January 8, the first day of a week-long protest that will culminate in a large demonstration in Berlin on January 15, around 19,000 tractors took part in protests in Bavaria, and 25,000 vehicles showed up in Baden-Württemberg, according to German newspaper Bild. 

Similar protests against the planned government measures with heavy vehicles that temporarily blocked many roads and highways were held all over Germany, including Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony, Münster, and Mainz. 

Thousands of vehicles formed a blockade of the A2 highway, one of the busiest roads in Europe, which connects the Ruhr area in the west of Germany to Berlin in the east. 

“We’re sick of the lies. We’re sick of trying to get rid of our jobs. It’s not only farmers. It’s the lorry drivers. It’s the normal workers. Everybody is sick of politicians who have no idea what they are talking about, who have no education to tell us how our lifestyle should look,” one of the farmers on the A2 highway told Dutch journalist and commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek. 

In a speech in response to the protests, leftist German Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Green Party) tried to portray the farmers as anti-democratic “extremists” and claimed that “this republic is the best state Germany has ever had.” 

Habeck notably appeared to threaten the organizers of the protests as “enemies of the constitution.”

“Our constitution sets limits on enemies of the constitution,” Habeck said. “Anyone who wants to undermine democracy must be held accountable for it using the means of the rule of law.”

He also took aim at “social media campaigns” and “political programs that talk about subversion or even repopulation and always blame others.” 

“We must not tolerate right-wing extremists who use the shelter of freedom to abolish it. In the same way, we as a society must not give space to enemies of the constitution,” he insisted.

The German farmers’ protests are reminiscent of protests in the Netherlands and the trucker protests in Canada and have garnered ample support online, including from tech mogul Elon Musk, who replied to the question of journalist Peter Sweden “Do you support the farmers?” by stating, “I do.” 

Leftist German gov’t to cut agricultural subsidies 

The farmers’ protest came as a response to plans by Germany’s left-wing government to cut agricultural tax subsidies. However, the protestors also expressed their general discontent with the reigning government, which has had very low approval ratings among the population overall. 

In December 2023, an agreement reached by the government provided for the abolition of benefits for agricultural diesel and the tax exemptions of farming vehicles. The Federal Environment Agency listed both of these subsidies as “damaging to the environment.”

On January 4, a few days before the start of the announced farmers’ protest, the federal government partially withdrew the announced cuts. According to a press release, the government intends to waive the abolition of the preferential tax treatment for forestry and agriculture. It plans to phase out the tax breaks for agricultural diesel fuel over multiple years instead of abolishing them immediately. 

Nevertheless, the farmers’ association stuck with its week-long protest plans, as the government’s concessions “are insufficient,” the association said in a press release.