Thousands of farmers descended on Berlin in their tractors on Tuesday in a massive protest against the government’s green policies.
The rally, being held in protest to government plans, is having a major impact on traffic in the capital. Several roads and the Autobahn have been hit by huge traffic jams due to the overload of tractors.
More than 5,000 tractors and agricultural machinery, as well as 10,000 farmers, have been making their way from across Germany to the Straße des 17. June, near Brandenburg Gate in the centre of Berlin, for Tuesday’s rally.
Residents in the capital have been urged to leave their cars at home. There is also disruption to bus and tram lines.
Convoys, some up to 20 kilometres long, were seen early in the morning travelling along roads.
On Tuesday morning the exits at Tempelhofer Damm, Kaiserdamm and Beusselstraße on the southern city Autobahn were closed. In addition, the Victory Column and the Straße des 17. Juni between Brandenburger Tor and Ernst-Reuter-Platz have been shut. Parts of Kaiserdamm and Bismarckstraße were also closed to regular traffic.
Drivers are facing 50 minute delays if travelling on Heerstraße, where traffic was also congested in the morning due to the rally.
First tractors arrive for rally
Brandenburg police said a total of 5,095 tractors are involved in the protest.
The first farmers arrived with their vehicles at Brandenburg Gate in the early hours of Tuesday.
Another 1,825 tractors followed early Tuesday morning from Brandenburg. In Perleberg alone, according to the police, almost 550 farmers spent the night with their tractors at a meeting point. “There are 1,000 vehicles on the route from Perleberg to Nauen, which we are leading to Berlin,” a police spokesman said in the morning.
More and more vehicles joined the queue, causing major traffic disruption.
Police recorded two accidents caused by drivers overtaking. They urged people to be careful on the roads.
The demo is the latest in a series of protests by farmers in Germany. They are being organized by the movement Land schafft Verbindung (countryside creates connection) as well as the German Farmers’ Association and the alliance Forum Natur.
Why exactly are farmers protesting?
Farmers are angry about new planned regulations which Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, of the CDU, and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, of the SPD, presented at the beginning of September.
Among other things, the government package stipulates that the weedkiller glyphosate will be banned in Germany by the end of 2023 after a phasing-out period.
The government is also proposing to reduce the nitrate content in ground water by cutting the use of certain fertilizers and liquid manure.
But many German farmers say they are still coping with large amounts of excess nitrate from the past.
There are fears that the agricultural package will endanger family-run farms, according to the Land schafft Verbindung.