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Farmers' protest in Straubing, Bavaria

Photo: St. Wintermeier / dpa

In connection with the planned farmers' protests next week, German security authorities are observing various calls for mobilization and expressions of solidarity from right-wing extremists, groups of the New Right and the Querdenker scene, according to a report. According to »Welt am Sonntag«, this was the result of a query at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the constitutional protection authorities of the federal states. The calls are particularly strong in online networks.

According to the report, the BKA registered numerous calls for mobilization. Among them are calls for a "general strike" and "subversive riots" as well as for an "infiltration" of the demonstrations. According to the police, the right-wing extremist party "The Third Way" speaks of a possible peasant uprising. AfD members and functionaries of the party would act as event registrants or are scheduled as speakers. There is also an appeal from the new right-wing initiative "One Percent".

On the one hand, farmers with legitimate concerns, on the other hand, extremists

When asked by the Welt am Sonntag, the security authorities said that the farmers' protest was difficult to assess. On the one hand, there are farmers with a legitimate cause, and on the other hand, there are extremists who want to infiltrate this protest. At the same time, according to the report, the BKA does not see any "risk-relevant findings" for the farmers' protests and their organizers themselves.

On Friday, Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) had already warned of an infiltration of the farmers' protests by extremists. "People from the far right" are trying to use the legitimate farmers' protests for their own ends, Özdemir said in ZDF's "heute journal." They have fantasies of overthrowing," he said. It is a core part of liberal democracy to listen to each other and reject violence – "otherwise something will rot here".

Representatives of the farmers' associations had repeatedly distanced themselves from violence and extremist actions. On Thursday afternoon, farmers had blocked a ferry pier in Schlüttsiel in Schleswig-Holstein and prevented Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), who was returning from vacation, from leaving the ship. It was only on a second attempt during the night that the ferry was able to dock and take Habeck to the mainland after the demonstrators had left. The action caused sharp criticism across party lines. The public prosecutor's office in Flensburg is investigating coercion and possible breach of the peace.

Özdemir: "We are not susceptible to blackmail."

Previously, the German government had announced that it was withdrawing part of its austerity plans in the agricultural sector. According to this, the preferential treatment of motor vehicle tax for forestry and agriculture is to be maintained, contrary to what was initially planned, and the abolition of the tax relief for agricultural diesel is not to take place until 2026. Farmers consider this to be insufficient.

Large demonstrations are planned for Monday, where significant traffic disruptions are expected.

"The two measures together, abolishing the vehicle tax exemption and abolishing the diesel privilege, were too much. We have corrected that," Özdemir told heute journal. He understands that this is still not enough for some, but it is "a fair measure". The federal government has listened to the farmers and reacted, said the Minister of Agriculture. It is not acceptable for some to now threaten to use violence to put pressure on politicians, said Özdemir. "We are not susceptible to blackmail."

The CDU/CSU parties support the farmers' adherence to planned protest actions in the coming week, although the federal government has largely withdrawn the planned cuts in the agricultural sector. "The protests of the farmers are absolutely understandable," said the deputy head of the Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Andrea Lindholz (CSU), the Düsseldorf »Rheinische Post«. The traffic light government wants to continue to close budget gaps at the expense of domestic agriculture. Union parliamentary group vice-chairman Steffen Bilger (CDU) accused the federal government of a "rotten compromise", because the cancellation of the agricultural diesel subsidy is still planned.

CDU parliamentary group leader calls for more support for farmers

The CDU parliamentary group in the Thuringian state parliament has presented measures that should lead to improvements for farmers. "Agricultural aid must be maintained in order to prevent massive competitive disadvantages for farmers and further price increases for consumers," said parliamentary group leader Mario Voigt. There is a threat of agricultural production being relocated abroad and a massive loss of added value in rural areas.

Specifically, he called on the state government, among other things, to better remunerate farmers' efforts when they create flower strips or take other nature conservation measures. In addition, the bureaucracy for the farmers should be streamlined. Instruments for submitting digital funding applications, for example, should be simplified. Voigt also demanded improvements to the law on the so-called disposal of animal by-products. In the future, the state should again bear a third of the costs for this. Currently, the costs for the disposal of slaughterhouse waste are going through the roof, according to Voigt.

At the federal level, Voigt proposes to completely abandon the planned gradual abolition of agricultural diesel subsidies. In addition, the cuts in funding instruments for rural development planned in the draft federal budget for 2024 should be reversed.