Germany: Thousands of farmers protest in Berlin
Long convoys of vehicles blocked roads in Bavaria, Baden Württemberg and Bremen, as well as the German capital. Agriculturists are angry at what they perceive as unwarranted environmental regulations.
Several hundred tractors blockaded roads across Germany on Friday as farmers vented their frustration over environmental regulations.
The vehicles were headed for Berlin, along with a number of other parts of the country. Commuters were warned to expect disruption in the states where convoys of tractors were out in force — namely Bavaria and Baden Württemberg in the south, Hesse in central Germany and Lower Saxony in the north, as well as Bremen and Berlin.
The mayor of the German capital, Michael Müller, recognized that it was a "burden for Berlin," but "the farmers have their point of view" and that locals would "have to tolerate" the upheaval.
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Green Week protests
The rallies come as Berlin holds the International Green Week, a food and agricultural fair which starts on Friday. The annual festival, which has been in existence for almost 100 years, has seen a number of protests in recent years as locals express concerns over the future of the agricultural industry and environmental policy.
The agricultural workers are angry at government policies regarding new animal welfare labeling and restrictions on the use of pesticides to protect insects, among other things.
It is the second time in recent months tractors have descended on Germany's urban areas after bringing traffic to a standstill in October 2019, with farmers citing government policies to limit nitrate runoff from fields and boost nature conservation as the principle reasons for that blockade.
More than 1,000 tractors descended on former capital Bonn, home of many ministries including the Agriculture Ministry. The farmers bought gridlock to the small city.
"No one should forget that farmers provide food," one protest sign reads. The famers are upset about new regulations aimed at protecting the environment and animals.
The farmers feel left behind as more regulation favors bigger agricultural conglomerates to the detriment of small farming operations. The farmer say they are sick of "farmer bashing" and being blamed for damage to the environement.
The central issue at the heart of recent regulation, is the large amount of fertilizer and manure spread across fields flowing into groundwater and rivers. The controls are also aimed at mitigating the effects of declining insect and bird populations in Germany.
The convoy of tractors in Bonn stretched more than 1 kilometer, closing traffic bridges and shutting down major roads. There were also protests in cities across Germany.
A stream of about 200 tractors drove up Straße des 17. Juni, near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. They descended on the city from four different areas surrounding Berlin.
More than double the expected number of protesters turned up in Hanover, in northern Germany. They are upset not only with the new regulations, but also with the ban on glyphosate and the Mercosur trade agreement with South America.
jsi/rt (dpa, EPD)
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