22.01.2019 |

‘We are fed up!’: 35,000 march in Berlin for sustainable farming

35,000 took to Berlin’s streets (Photo: Nick Jaussi/

Thousands took to the streets of Berlin last Saturday, 19 January, to demand a new food and farming policy that benefits small farmers and protects the environment. Farmers, consumers, conservationists, beekeepers and food activists joined the march which was led by 171 tractors and ended in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Equipped with colourful posters and creative costumes, some 35,000 people walked under this year’s motto “Axe EU funds for agro-industries!”. Many dressed up as cows or pigs, others buzzed across the city as butterflies. Protesters lay down in the street, reenacting the dying of bees and insects due to the use of pesticides. A giant dead bee, upside down, was floating in the air, carrying the slogan “Agroindustry kills”, while a ladybird pleaded “Keep me alive. Agricultural reform now!”. Farmers from all parts of Germany had travelled for many hours by tractor in order to take part. The event was organised by a broad alliance of more than 100 farmers’, environmental, animal welfare and development organisations, known as “Wir haben es satt!” (we are fed up). 2019 marks the ninth year in a row that protesters gather in Berlin during the International Green Week – Europe’s biggest agricultural fair that currently takes places in the capital.

The protesters called on the German government to change course in agricultural policy. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is currently being reformed, meaning that the German government will have the chance to decide what type of farming will be fund with taxpayers’ money. The alliance argues that public subsidies should only be used to support sustainable and climate-friendly agriculture, animal welfare and small-scale family farms and farming communities that produce good food for all. “With over €6 billion that Germany distributes every year as EU farming subsidies, environmental and animal-appropriate transformation of agriculture must be promoted,” said Saskia Richartz, a spokesperson for the alliance. In Germany, €6.3 billion of EU agricultural funds are distributed to farms every year, more than three-quarters of which are per-hectare subsidies. This favours large, industrial farms. The 3,300 largest businesses receive €1 billion in subsidies a year, while the smallest 200,000 farms have to share about €700 million. “European agricultural policy must be changed: only those who respect animal welfare and protect our environment should receive EU money,” said Hubert Weiger, Chair of BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany. “We need a strong Europe, but it needs to become more environmentally just and sustainable, and socially fair.” (ab)

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