Comment: This is like the Canadian trucker convoy and the French farmers' protests rolled into one...

farmer germany
The protests are set to last all week.

Commuters around Germany are facing severe disruption as a massive protest by farmers blocks roads across the country.

In the coordinated action, farmers have driven their tractors onto highways, slip roads and smaller roads and stopped traffic from getting through.

Protesters in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin had signs attached to their tractors with signs like 'No farmer, no future'.
'This is the busiest highway in Europe...the truckers are here with us. First of all, [the government] want our land...and they're trying to get rid of us'
Footage from the protests:

The action is the beginning of a week of protests against a government plan to scrap tax breaks on diesel used in agriculture.

Where are the farmers' protests causing disruption?

In the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, farmers blocked motorway slip roads with hundreds of tractors. They were supported by haulage companies protesting against the increase in lorry tolls.

In the district of Cloppenburg in northwest Lower Saxony, a main road was blocked by 40 vehicles. In Saxony, according to police, some motorway slip roads in the Dresden area were unusable. There are also gatherings on the A4, A13, A14 and A17 motorways.

Why are German farmers protesting?

There was a similar protest in December when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's unpopular three-party coalition infuriated farmers by drawing up plans to abolish a car tax exemption for farming vehicles and the diesel tax breaks. The proposals were part of a package to fill a €17 billion hole in the 2024 budget.

Last week the government climbed down partially, saying that the car tax exemption would be retained and the cuts in the diesel tax breaks would be staggered over three years.

But the German Farmers' Association said it was still insisting on the plans being reversed fully and would go ahead with a "week of action" starting today.

The protests are under scrutiny after a group of farmers prevented Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from disembarking a ferry on Thursday. He was at a small North Sea port returning from a personal trip to an offshore island.

That incident drew condemnation from government and opposition figures and the farmers' association.

Authorities have warned that far-right groups and others could try to capitalise on the protests. Farmers' association chairman Joachim Rukwied told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that "we don't want to have right-wing and other radical groups" at the demonstrations.

The budget revamp that included the disputed cuts was required after Germany's highest court annulled an earlier decision to repurpose €60 billion euros originally meant to cushion the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic for measures to help combat climate change and modernise the country. The maneuver fell afoul of Germany's strict self-imposed limits on running up debt.