05 Jan 2024, 11:43
Julian Wettengel

Farmer protests continue in Germany after govt backtracks on cuts for climate-damaging subsidies

Clean Energy Wire / Spiegel / Table.Media

Following a noisy backlash from farmers, the German government coalition has decided to backtrack on planned cuts to climate-damaging subsidies in the agriculture sector. However, continued protests show that the move might be insufficient to calm the sector. To fill a 2024 budget gap following a constitutional court ruling on key climate action funding, the government in December said it would roll back tax breaks for agriculture vehicles, which led to a major protest in the capital Berlin. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), economy minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) now agreed to cancel some of these measures and delay others. Agricultural vehicle tax breaks will not be slashed while diesel tax breaks for farmers will be abolished only gradually, starting this year.

“The disproportionate burden on agriculture and forestry as part of the necessary budget consolidation is therefore off the table,” said agriculture minister Cem Özdemir. The government said the new agreement means that there is a renewed gap of 2.5 billion euros in the 2024 budget. This could be filled by using some of the revenues from offshore wind auctions 2023 (€780 million, originally earmarked for sustainable fishing and marine protection, according to Table.Media), additional savings in the agriculture ministry budget and thanks to updated budget figures. Lawmakers could agree the 2024 budget by the beginning of February, said the government.

However, farmers made clear they think the changes are insufficient. “This can only be a first step,” said Joachim Rukwied, head of the farmers association DBV, and added that a week of protests (from 8 January) would go ahead as planned. Rukwied also condemned a heavily criticised protest against minister Habeck on 4 January as a “no-go.” A group of about 100 people had kept the minister from deboarding a ferry in northern Germany after returning from a holiday, Spiegel reported. Government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit called the protest “shameful”, while agriculture minister Özdemir said: “I always apply the same yardstick, whether with climate protesters [gluing themselves to streets] or with the farmers at the ferry harbour: violence and coercion are despicable and also harm the cause.”

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
« previous news next news »


Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee