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German Farmers Block Roads, Highway Ramps To Protest Subsidy Cuts

By Reuters
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German Farmers Block Roads, Highway Ramps To Protest Subsidy Cuts

German farmers started a week of nationwide protests early on Monday in response to plans to phase out agricultural subsidies as the coalition government scrambles to fix its finances.

Images showed convoys of tractors and trucks, some adorned with protest banners, on German roads in sub-zero pre-dawn temperatures. Police reports said that roads and highway ramps were blocked in multiple locations, causing traffic jams during the morning rush hour.

Farmers have vowed to blockade major traffic and logistics routes through next week Monday as they warn that an end to tax breaks will drive farms out of business.

The head of German farmers' association DBV asked the public for sympathy in an interview published on Monday.

'Support And Solidarity'

"We do not want to lose the support and solidarity we have received from large parts of the population," he told Stern magazine, but said the farmers "will not accept the planned tax hikes for the agricultural sector."

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A backlash from farmers last week prompted Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition, racing to finalise a 2024 budget draft that was delayed by a court ruling, to make unexpected changes, including modifying plans to cut subsidies for agriculture.

Subsidy To End

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 government also dropped plans to abolish the preferential treatment in vehicle tax for forestry and agriculture.

The DBV, however, said the changes were not enough and stuck with plans for protests this week.

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