Farmers across Germany stage tractor blockades in protest

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Angry farmers in Germany took to the streets on Monday, using tractors to block roads and kick off a series of crippling strikes in protest of Berlin’s plans to cut tax breaks for agriculture. Dozens of tractors and lorries stationed in the city centre of Berlin blasted their horns in anger, marking the start of a planned week of action. The strikes come as workers in various sectors across Germany have turned to industrial action in recent weeks, as the country struggles with weak growth and high inflation. Rail workers are set to walk out next with a three-day strike beginning on Wednesday, seeking a pay rise to compensate for months of high inflation.

The farmers began gathering on Sunday evening at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, protesting the government’s plans to withdraw tax breaks. They blocked city centres and motorway access ramps in cities across the country, causing traffic disruptions and snarls. Demonstrators also caused disruption at Germany’s borders with France, Poland, and the Czech Republic, backing up traffic at crossing points.

The protests stem from the government’s plans to cut subsidies, which led thousands of protestors to descend on Berlin in December. The government partially walked back the reductions on January 4, with a discount on vehicle tax for agriculture planned to remain in place and a diesel subsidy phased out over several years instead of being abolished immediately. However, the farmers argue that this move does not go far enough and have urged Berlin to completely reverse the plans. The subsidy cuts were announced after a shock court ruling forced the government to find savings in the budget for 2024.

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