Agricultural protest in Berlin: Green turn will be a “marathon”

Status: 01/22/2022 5:12 p.m

In Berlin, farmers from all over Germany demonstrated for a more sustainable agricultural policy. Her eyes are on Minister of Agriculture Özdemir. But that dampens expectations: the change will be a tour de force.

In Berlin, farmers demonstrated for a change in agricultural policy. According to the organizers, more than 50 organizations took part in the protest march, in which 25 tractors drove through downtown Berlin.

With the alliance “We’re fed up!” farmers are demanding more sustainability in agriculture. “It is high time that the farms and people in this country were among the winners of agricultural and food policy again,” said Saskia Richartz, spokeswoman for the alliance. She spoke of a “dramatic situation” in the industry: “Poor producer prices due to the price dictate of the trade and the fatal focus on export are forcing farms to close.”

A long list of criticisms

But the list of points of criticism goes much further: Land is becoming more and more an “object of speculation,” Richartz warned. Problems such as animal welfare, antibiotic abuse and the threat of climate change also need to be addressed. The federal government must stop farm deaths and ensure that everyone has access to good food that is free of pesticides and genetic engineering.

And the farmers see the new Minister of Agriculture, Cem Özdemir, as particularly responsible. He and the new federal government should make reforms in the industry possible. The Green politician was symbolically handed the baton for political change – in the form of a leek.

Straw protest: A lettering made of hay bales in front of the Reichstag building calls for the “agricultural turnaround now”.

Image: AFP

A marathon for more organic farming

The minister agreed with the alliance on a number of points. “I don’t want to live in a country where farmers give up and then some anonymous investors take over the land afterwards,” said Özdemir. “This is how the villages are destroyed, this is how the country is destroyed.” He emphasized the value of the farm succession – “that the young are happy to take over their businesses and have a livelihood”.

However, this change will not be easy, admitted Özdemir, who had brought his entire ministry leadership with him to the demonstration. He compared the goal of 30 percent organic farming nationwide by 2030 to running a marathon. It is important to do this together. That’s why he called on the farmers: “Please keep up the pressure, the others are doing it too.” The artificial contrast between farmers and animal welfare, biodiversity and climate protection must be ended.

But the minister also drew boundaries. Agriculture must also be social, but does not replace social policy. “Junk prices” for groceries such as meat products and a decent income for farmers are mutually exclusive. But others are responsible for social policy.

“Green Week” canceled due to pandemic

The “We’re fed up!” alliance consists of more than 60 organizations. Every year since 2011, farmers from all over Germany have protested at the beginning of the “Green Week” in Berlin. This year, the demonstration could only take place on a small scale due to the corona pandemic. The fair itself was canceled this year.

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