This article appears in the February 2, 2024 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
German Farmers’ Protests Spread Across Sectors and Nations
Jan. 27—The farm sector is up in arms Europe-wide. The farmer-led protest movement has spread from Germany to France, the largest agriculture producer (in farmland area and commodity volume) in the European Union (EU), and to Italy, the third largest after Germany, and to many other nations. Farmers in the Netherlands, second largest food exporter in the world, in money terms, after the U.S., have been demonstrating for the last three years, and back their EU neighbors. In 2023, Dutch farmers helped unseat the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government majority, and now have seats in the Parliament.
On Jan. 26 farmers led a tractor/truck barricade of Paris. The same day was a huge action of farmers and allies in Berlin, including truck drivers, health care workers, skilled tradesmen, and small businessmen of all kinds. Demonstrations in recent days saw protests in Vienna, Austria; Rome, Italy; Warsaw, Poland, and many more cities. Spanish farmers and livestock producers are planning mega-actions beginning Feb. 6.
These demonstrations come after the gigantic German farmers’ Week of Action Jan. 8–15—an unprecedented show of force for economic goals, and show of cooperation among interest groups. There were tractorcades, rallies, and other events in all 16 states, with huge rallies in Berlin the first and last day. Over 100,000 farmers and allies, with thousands of vehicles, demonstrated in the streets, with outstanding coordination and peaceful conduct, praised even by the police.
All the protests are clearly directed against the European Union’s agriculture policy, which threatens the existence of independent family farms, and the food supply. Arnoud Rousseau, President of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSA), recently called the EU policy “incomprehensible,” and blasted the ostensibly environmentally friendly “Farm to Fork” Green Deal strategy (May, 2020) for preventing economic growth in the agriculture sector. Coordination Rurale, representing mainly small family farms, openly denounced the European Union as “ultra-liberal with its free trade agreements, and ultra-ecologist.”
An additional target for protest is the NATO policy whereby Ukraine grain, chicken, and other commodities (all dominated by the same agro-financial-cartels that rule the EU, and throughout the West) come into EU nations, including Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, and force down prices and income.
Sicilia Agricoltura, the Italian farm magazine based in Sicily, wrote of the upsurge that “Farmers, who dedicate their lives to feeding Europe, have united in a protest to make their voices heard and to obtain the recognition and support they need.”
Mass Actions, Mass Collaboration
The scale of protests this month is unprecedented, with many different kinds of demonstrations from place to place.
GERMANY. The Week of Action, the kick-off to the now-spreading farmer mobilization, had huge demonstrations both Jan. 8 and 15 in Berlin. On the days in between were dozens of protests, including in Munich, Stuttgart, Mainz, and many other cities. The immediate impetus—the straw that broke the camel’s back—is the government insistence, in the name of saving the planet, on hiking farm-use diesel prices, and increasing taxes on farm machinery, which come on top of “green” restrictions on farming.
On Jan. 15, an estimated 30,000 people gathered at noon in Berlin at the famous Brandenburg Gate. Tractorcades, forming up the night before, came into the city on five routes, with people cheering along the way. Non-farmers addressed the crowd. The head of a transport association reported that since early December, truckers have had to pay 6.7 billion euro more because of the CO2 tax. This will cause bankruptcies as well as inflation.
On Jan. 10, railway workers staged a three-day strike in the middle of the farmers’ Week of Action. Then again, they started a six-day strike Jan. 24.
Jan. 26 was another major rally in Berlin, with farmer delegations visiting the offices of the three government parties in the so-called “traffic light” coalition (Red=SPD, Yellow=FDP, Green=Greens). In Eschwege, in the state of Hesse, there were no blockades of roadways, but instead farmers went to supermarkets, to hand out flyers to shoppers, and to discuss with them the food production crisis.
In the state of Lower Saxony, farmers started what they call a “Bridge Day” of action, demonstrating on highway overpasses, for example, on the A1 in the district of Rotenburg. In the city of Hanover, farmers will have their tractors on the bridges over Autobahn 2.
The spirit of standing together against immoral and incompetent policies was expressed by Torsten Deutschmann, the owner of a trucking company in northern Hesse, who told the media this week,
It’s no longer just about farmers or freight forwarders. The government’s political decisions affect all of us. That’s why we want to use regional campaigns to draw attention to grievances in politics.
FRANCE. On Jan. 26, French agricultural unions conducted a blockade of Paris. As of noon, the major highways leading into Paris were simultaneously blocked by phalanxes of tractors and trucks. The same day, protests took place in some 85 of the total 101 departements, with more than 100 local blockades. Fishermen joined the farmer protestors. For them, a first, a one-month ban on almost all commercial fishing in the Bay of Biscay began Jan. 22, “to protect dolphins” on the Atlantic coast, for “biodiversity.”
Prior to the Paris action were days of protests in the region of Toulouse, involving spraying of manure, dumping produce off trucks coming in from outside France; and other attention actions, including putting hay bales and tires on the highways.
On Jan. 24, the farmers’ unions presented a list of demands to the government. Included was the demand for compensation for the higher price of diesel for farm use; and emergency aid for those agriculture sectors hit hardest—viticulture, and the small organic farming operations. In addition, the farmers insist that the regulations be lifted which prohibit farmers from exercising their own judgment on the use of chemicals for crop defense and other purposes. Farmers also want the government to stop penalizing their decisions on when to fallow their land.
The next day, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal rushed to a farm area in southwestern France. Speaking from notes on a hay bale, he announced a number of measures he said would reduce the financial and regulatory hardship on farmers. For example, he promised that the price of diesel fuel will be frozen. He also pledged France will not agree to the EU signing a trade deal with Mercosur, the South American trade association, so no cheap food imports will come from there into the EU.
The response from FNSEA President Rousseau: “We have decided to pursue our movement. The prime minister has not responded to all of our questions.”
ITALY. Jan. 22 witnessed a national day of protest, followed in the next four days by 22 farmer tractorcades, sit-ins, and other actions in cities and agriculture centers all over the country, including Rome, Ferrara, Verona, and many others. These actions were organized by networks of the Comitati Riuniti Agricoli (Cra), a recently formed grouping acting apart from the established farmer associations, whom the Cra regards as complicit in the harm done to Italian agriculture by the green fanatics and the globalist agro-cartels. However, the Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori (Cia)—the second largest farmers union in Italy, with 900,000 members has now joined forces with the Cra for a big demonstration in Turin Jan. 28.
Cra leader Danilo Calvani and associates have organized local caucuses throughout Italy in recent weeks, inspired by the German protests, and with support by the Italian public. Farmer demands in Italy are similar to those elsewhere in the EU: 1) a reliable farm income, that meets costs of production; 2) stop the tactics of land-grabbing, now taking place, from conditions that push farmers to bankruptcy.
ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE. Actions are underway and planned in many other nations from Poland to Spain. In Greece on Jan. 26, convoys of tractors hit the streets in the northern area of Kozani, Kastoria, and Grevena, protesting the implementation of the new EU Common Agriculture Policy measures which harm food production in the name of respect for “nature.” They blocked access to the regional government office, while they met with political leaders. Earlier in January, Greek farmers protested government inaction to reimburse farmers for losses of crops, livestock, and machinery during September’s Storm Daniel. The last week in January, they will block the Egnatia Motorway, the major east-west highway linking Turkey and the Adriatic.
Also on Jan. 26, Belgian farmers blocked access to the E42 motorway leading to Brussels, the nation’s capital, and headquarters of the European Commission implementing the disastrous EU farm policies. Protests in Belgium will continue in the last week of January, targetting as in France, key sites of agro-cartel companies, especially Carrefour and Danone.
The common enemy of farmers and the public throughout Europe, and worldwide, is the network best termed the agro-financial complex, with the controlling powers in it being the very same as those of the military-industrial-financial complex. The major shareholders in the globalist cartels of agriculture and food multinationals (seeds, chemicals, fertilizer, food processing retail) are BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Goldman Sachs, and a few others: including ADM, WH Holdings/Smithfield, Nestlés, Danone, and Carrefour. These are the very same as the top shareholders in the military industrial complex of General Dynamics, BAE, RTX (Raytheon), Northrop Grumman, and the rest. Former BlackRock Managing Director Elga Bartsch is now the Chief Economist for the German Economics Ministry.
Greed, which is bad enough, is not the worst trait of this network. These companies are part of the core of London-Wall Street banking, with satellites in Amsterdam, Chicago, and in the IMF, etc., whose practices loot and impoverish economies. This outfit at present dominates both military and agriculture policy in London, Washington, and Brussels. Under NATO’s hyper-belligerence strategy, in the last three years, fuel and electricity costs have gone sky high for all of Europe, and so, therefore, have farmers’ costs of production—for seed, fertilizer, pesticide, and other inputs.
On top of this, the imposition of EU Green Deal measures, from country to country, depending on each government’s plans, are designed to shut down family farming. The 2020 EU document “Farm to Fork” states that by 2030, there should be a reduction in the range of 20 to 50% in European land area, numbers of livestock, use of fertilizer and crop defense chemicals. Instead, Europe is to return to a state of nature, emissions-reduction, and biodiversity. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s analysis of the “Farm to Fork” schemes found that the result would be a loss of food security for hundreds of millions of people. EIR reported on this three years ago in its Jan. 15, 2021 issue.
Thousands of European farmers are now operating at a loss, ready to go under. In Germany, this means the end for some farms that have been in the family for up to 15 generations. Greek farmers publicized this week that their income has fallen over 50% in the last two years. And it wasn’t that good before that.
No wonder that a meeting of the agriculture ministers of all 27 EU member nations, on Jan. 23 in Brussels, was a non-starter. These government officials, who cower before the agro-financial-complex, are now facing an uproar from the streets. Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas had these words:
The [European] Commission has imposed on the [agricultural] sector environmental requirements … without due explanation, dialogue or financial support.
Two days later, on Jan. 25, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, continued her promotion of the genocidal policy, undaunted. In Brussels, right in the midst of the unprecedented farmers’ and public revolt, she convened a small group of “stakeholders,” including representatives from the World Wildlife Fund, agro-cartel firms, and some token farmers, to kick off her months-long “Strategic Dialogue on the Future of EU Agriculture,” toward a new (fantasy) consensus on combining “agriculture with nature.”
Near universally ridiculed, von der Leyen may well have decided to do this now, because she has no chance to do so after the June European Parliamentary elections which will kick out her crowd. The full text of her speech is available here.
Farmers’ Demands Imply New System
The mass upsurge of European farmers, their demands, and their public support dramatically signify that a new system can be brought into being—new government policies, new banking and social measures—that can serve the common interest in a sound economy of food security and development. The international messages of support to the German farmers reflect this hope.
The diverse demands of the farmers from country to country across Europe, and internationally, imply certain common principles for a new system: Farmers must have a reliable, decent income, above their costs of production; this means parity pricing for their output. Public infrastructure must be built, to serve all sectors, with water, power, transportation, and health care. No monopolistic practices can be allowed to dominate farming inputs, food processing, or distribution. No speculation can be allowed in farm commodity inputs (seed, fertilizer, fuels, etc.) nor commodities produced. To serve the common interests of the community socially, and make proper use of the resource base as well, family-scale farming is the best model, not neo-plantation type, industrial agriculture. Advances in science and technology must continually be developed and broadly applied. Plentiful, reliable, wholesome food the world over is in the interests of all nations, and collaborative relations can make this happen.
A Jan. 10 Open Letter from U.S. farmers and ranchers to the German farmers stated:
You have the guts and courage to defend the right to produce food, and demand a productive economy for all citizens….
A similar support letter was sent Jan. 18 to “German producers and the German people,” by the “National Front for Saving the Mexican Countryside,” an organization formed in 2023 to unite farmers and ranchers from more than 20 Mexican states, to fight for their right to produce. There were signers from six states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Tamaulipas)
They wrote, with fraternal greetings:
Nothing of what your government imposes on you is unknown to us. In Mexico, we suffer the same evils, because we have governments that have surrendered to the same global powers….
[We know that] with your mobilizations you are also representing the feeling, the identity and the purpose of all the producers of the world: to put an end to the hunger of our peoples. Even that moral and human commitment alone is sufficient motivation to correct the trade and tax insanity, as well as the ill-intentioned environmentalist policies which are the result of an unjust international financial system and threaten food production, policies which see in the spread of hunger an ally of their twisted concept of sustainability.
We are in that struggle; and we also hope that this message of support lays the first stone in the construction of an international alliance of producers.
The author: email@example.com
—Claudio Celani contributed to this article.