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Christian Lindner at the lectern in Berlin: Joachim Rukwied (left), President of the German Farmers' Union, tried to calm the demonstrators


Monika Skolimowska / dpa

Thousands of farmers have once again gathered in Berlin to protest against the planned end of diesel subsidies for agriculture. But it is also about a fundamental dissatisfaction with the policy of the traffic light government. Finance Minister Christian Lindner faced the meeting – he was met with the anger of the farmers.

The FDP politician was loudly insulted and booed. Accompanied by whistles and shouts of protest, Lindner stepped up to the lectern, but because of the noise he was only able to speak after an appeasing appeal from farmers' president Joachim Rukwied. Nevertheless, the assembled farmers continued to accompany his speech with loud "Get out!" -Shouting, honking and whistling.

Lindner's response is reassuring. "I understand the protest," said the finance minister. He was impressed by the image of the protesting farmers and the solidarity. "Their protest is legitimate and it is peaceful." Lindner said that he has been advocating for independent entrepreneurship such as that of farmers for years. Agriculture deserves the respect of society as a whole. "I want politicians to trust farmers instead of interfering with the farms."

According to SPIEGEL reporters on site, chants against the German finance minister could be heard again and again during the speech. "Liar" and "hypocrite" were the words. One protester lit a smoke pot. (You can read more about this in our liveblog here.)

No concessions on agricultural diesel

Lindner did not hold out the prospect of concessions on Argar diesel. "I can't promise them more state aid from the federal budget today," he said. However, there could be more freedom for companies and less bureaucracy. This is what it is worth promoting together. It is also the right time to talk about the high environmental standards for farmers. It is also conceivable that fluctuating profits of companies could be better taken into account in income tax. A tariff smoothing or a tax-free risk reserve would be examined by him.

The German government wants to gradually abolish tax breaks for agricultural diesel. After massive protests, the government wants to abandon an originally planned abolition of the vehicle tax exemption for agriculture. However, the German Farmers' Association is calling for the cuts to be completely withdrawn. "For competitive agriculture, the promotion of agricultural diesel and the exemption from motor vehicle tax are essential," it said.

Already at the weekend, numerous farmers positioned themselves with their tractors in Berlin. On about half a dozen routes, they drove from several sides to the center of the capital on Monday to meet on the Straße des 17. Juni between the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate. In addition to the tractors, buses and trucks were expected to arrive at the rally. Freight forwarders and craftsmen also support the protest.