Around 4000 farmers are demonstrating in Hamburg's city center. On stage, which was built for the rally in the Gänsemarkt, "play me the song of death". The menacing occasion: The Conference of Environment Ministers , which takes place in Hamburg - the farmers protest against the agricultural policy of the Federal Government. The farmers had come into the city in the morning with their tractors, were partially guided on alternative routes to keep the traffic chaos within limits.
By the end of October, tens of thousands of farmers in 17 cities had taken to the streets against "farmer bashing" and overly stringent environmental regulations. Unlike in the Netherlands, where farmers downed barriers and blocked highways, the protests in Germany remained peaceful.
What triggers the protests, who is behind them - the most important facts:
- How did the protests come about?
The agrarian package, which was presented by the federal government in September, causes fierce frustration for many farmers. The legislative package obliges farmers to comply with new environmental regulations because agriculture is seen as a major cause of species extinction, as well as environmental problems such as high nitrate levels in groundwater.
For example, some of the EU direct payments are to be used as a premium for better environmental protection. There are also plans for a stricter fertilization ordinance , climate protection measures and an insect protection program . In protected areas no glyphosate should be allowed to be used in the future. What may seem rather harmless and comprehensible to city dwellers, brought many farmers to the streets.
- Who carries the protest?
The central rally in Hamburg was organized by the German Farmers' Association together with the Aktionsbündnis Forum Natur , an association of various associations representing forest owners, landowners and hunters. Among the organizers is the movement "Land creates connection" with the recent wave of protests.
So far, this movement is a loose coalition of thousands of farmers who do not yet have a legal structure, but want to continue the protest in the coming weeks. Although some of the movement's spokespersons are longtime members and experts of the farmers' association, they are well aware of the safety distance to the long-established lobbying association and emphasize that they are an independent grassroots movement.
- What do the farmers say?
The peasants claim that they are supported by a wave of popular sympathy. But that seems questionable. Certain demands, such as not becoming a victim of free world trade and being flooded with agricultural products that barely conform to human rights or conservation standards, are something that many consumers seem to share. By contrast, with its reservations against more conservation, the movement is politically isolated. Most recently, the AfD was the only party that showed understanding for all demands and stressed that it was "firmly on the side of the German farmers".
The subject of insect extinction is very contentious. Although various studies see industrial agriculture as a major cause , Thomas Andresen, spokesman for Land Creation, expresses doubts: The studies, which are easy to read (for example here and here), should be "first published", he demands. In addition, the species extinction could have quite different reasons, "such as the expansion of the mobile network".
Even with the nitrate inputs into the groundwater by over-fertilization, he does not see agriculture as the sole cause : "If I look at how some sewage treatment works, I have my doubts."
- How do environmentalists rate the protest?
Although Martin Hofstetter of Greenpeace expresses appreciation for the farmers, who have been prepared by politics too late for change . "With such crude conspiracy theories, however, they can hardly hope for the understanding of the population."