Farmers and truckers have assembled across Germany to protest the government’s plan to cut agricultural subsidies and enforce stricter regulations on the working class.

Footage shows enormous convoys of tractors and trucks along major highways throughout the country.

Reports suggest tens of thousands of farmers are participating in the widespread protests.

“The government’s policies are driving us into the ground, and we’re not going to take it lying down,” farmers reportedly said.

According to the Associated Press, farmers were enraged over a proposal from Germany’s three-party ruling coalition “to abolish a car tax exemption for farming vehicles and the diesel tax breaks.”

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AP reports:

Farmers blocked highway access roads in parts of Germany Monday and snarled traffic elsewhere with their tractors, launching a week of protests against a government plan to scrap tax breaks on diesel used in agriculture.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s unpopular three-party coalition infuriated farmers last month 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-euro ($18.6-billion) hole in the 2024 budget.

From POLITICO:

The government said in a statement that it would gradually phase out tax breaks on diesel fuel for farmers over multiple years rather than cut the benefit abruptly as coalition leaders had initially proposed, in order to “give the affected companies more time to adjust.” The government also said it would waive planned tax increases for agricultural vehicles.

The leaders of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition had previously announced the tax hikes on farmers as part of a draft budget deal for 2024 presented last month. The planned increases were part of the coalition’s attempts to plug a multi-billion-euro budget gap that appeared after the country’s top court ruled that some of its spending practices were unlawful.

In response to the coalition’s proposal, farmers organized a major protest in Berlin in which a convoy of 1,700 tractors blocked the main road leading to the Brandenburg Gate. Farmers have also planned nationwide protests for next week.

The coalition climbdown is unlikely to appease the protesters.

“This can only be a first step,” said Joachim Rukwied, president of the German Farmers’ Association. “Our position remains unchanged: Both proposals for cuts must be taken off the table. This is clearly also about the future viability of our industry and the question of whether domestic food production is still desirable at all.”

As the ruling coalition struggles to finalize a budget for 2024, the continued resistance of farmers illustrates how difficult it will be for party leaders to agree budget cuts without political repercussions.

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