berlin germany farmer
FILE: Farmer protest, Berlin.
Even a member of the ruling coalition is protesting against the changes.

Farmers from all over Germany have driven their tractors into central Berlin to protest planned budget cuts that will affect them.

Around 3,000 farmers are expected to attend on hundreds of tractors, moving in a convot around the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

There have been similar protests in other European countries, such as the Netherlands, as governments seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Comment: Ostensibly that's the reason, however it's pretty clear that this is a direct attack on farmers, and which intended to put the majority of them out of business: Irish farmers revolt over gov'ts 'green' plan to cull 195,000 cattle, 'retirement scheme' offered to willing farmers

Why are German farmers protesting?

The protest is against the government's plan to remove tax privileges and subsidies which farmers currently benefit from. The government says the measures should help protect the climate.

Under the plans, farmers will no longer get tax breaks for diesel they use whilst farming, nor an exemption from car tax for farming vehicles.

Comment: Over the last few decades, and throughout Europe, farmers have become entirely dependent on these subsidies to stay afloat. In an article about France's farmers, who also recently began protests of their own, in response to similar cuts, it was noted:
Despite this steep fall in numbers, two out of five French farmers earn less than €4,500 a year. Without subsidies from Brussels, tens of thousands of them would make a loss.
Footage from the protest in Germany:

The government coalition, made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens, announced the budget cuts last week.

However, the pro-business FDP said on Sunday that it would veto the plans to abolish tax breaks, signalling cracks in the coalition's agreement.

"The FDP parliamentary group does not consider the heavy burden on agricultural businesses to be acceptable," FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr told DPA.

"Too often people talk about supposedly climate-damaging subsidies without looking at the social and economic consequences of abolishing them," he added.

"Above all, our farmers need fair competitive conditions compared to other European countries," Dürr said. "That is exactly what would be at risk if the plans were implemented."

'Farmers are the ones who supply us with food'

Even Agriculture Minister Minister Cem Özdemir has protested. He told ARD television that farmers have "no alternative" to diesel.

"I'm not shutting myself off from us having to save, but it must be done in a way that we take people along with us - and farmers are the ones who supply us with food," Özdemir said. "These cuts ... overburden the sector."

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, a member of Özdemir's Green party, warned against picking apart last week's budget deal and said that anyone wanting to reverse planned cuts must come up with a way to finance doing so which is acceptable to all.

"As politicians, we are obliged to enable an overall solution," Habeck told German news agency dpa. "What politicians can't do is shirk responsibility and only say where savings shouldn't be made."

Comment: Can any country afford food shortages?

Habeck's Economy Ministry faces criticism from within the governing coalition over another aspect of the budget deal - an abrupt end to subsidies for buying new electric cars, which originally were due to stay in place until as late as the end of next year.