What are the causes of the farmers' protests?

Editors-in-chief of Wochenblatt and top agrar explain the background to the protests in the leading German media

In recent days, ARD, WDR and DER SPIEGEL have asked the editors-in-chief of top agrar and Wochenblatt für Landwirtschaft und Landleben to explain the causes and background to the nationwide protests by farmers against the Federal Government's intention to abolish the tax refund for agricultural diesel and the originally planned abolition of the motor vehicle tax exemption for agricultural vehicles.

'Politicians have ignored the problems of agriculture for years. It is understandable that farmers are now demonstrating against further impositions. The farmers I know are not 'angry farmers'. They are not demonstrating for more pay, less work or a better work-life balance. They want to produce food. And they work 24/7 in places where it is sometimes uncomfortable, smells bad and where things get busy at weekends and in the evenings,' wrote top agrar editor-in-chief Matthias Schulze Steinmann in a commentary for DER SPIEGEL. In the ARD Press Club, Schulze Steinmann made it clear that the protests were 'absolutely justified' because the traffic lights had placed a disproportionate burden on agriculture with the abolition of the tax refund and the previously planned abolition of the motor vehicle tax exemption. 'This has rightly caused the barrel to overflow,' said the top agrar editor-in-chief.

There are three reasons why the protests have been a success so far, emphasized Patrick Liste, editor-in-chief of Wochenblatt für Landwirtschaft und Landleben in an interview with WDR 5. 'Firstly, the industry is more united than it has been for a long time, and secondly, the farmers have been able to make it clear that their protests are about much more than agricultural diesel and vehicle tax. They are concerned with the sustainable framework conditions for agriculture in Germany, which they see as being jeopardized by excessive regulations and bureaucracy. And thirdly, the protests have met with a lot of positive support from the population. That was not to be expected.' Patrick Liste also finds it very positive that right-wing groups and conspirators have not succeeded in infiltrating the farmers' protests. The events at the ferry in Schlüttsiel with Minister Habeck had sensitized everyone to be vigilant. 'The leaders of the farmers' associations have clearly distanced themselves from violence and other questionable actions and slogans. And the agricultural demonstrators were very careful not to mix in the wrong participants during their protests. They have made it clear that they want nothing to do with this kind of thinking,' says Liste.

'It is very important that our citizens understand why farmers are taking to the streets and speaking out so loudly. And it is important that their motives are viewed through the lens of agriculture. Who better to do this than the specialist editors of the agricultural media? It's great that the journalists from SPIEGEL, ARD and WDR are getting information from their specialist colleagues,' say Malte Schwerdtfeger and Dr. Ludger Schulze Pals, Managing Directors of Landwirtschaftsverlag Münster, which publishes top agrar and the Wochenblatt für Landwirtschaft und Landleben.

Here you will find the statements of Matthias Schulze Steinmann and Patrick Liste in the original audio:

WDR 5 Morgenecho - Interview