Farmers stand up against the “Green Deal”

It began with the brilliant victory of the Farmers-Citizens Movement (BBB) in the provincial elections in March 2023 in the Netherlands, which immediately became the relatively strongest party and demoted the Christian Democrats (CDA) to a splinter party. Ostensibly, it was about nitrogen emissions from the agricultural sector, which the government wanted to radically reduce. The farmers’ revolt in Germany, which has now spread across Europe, was initially only about the diesel tax reduction. Olaf Scholz wants to use the comparatively modest amount of just under one billion to expand his chancellery.

But the farmer doesn’t need diesel for pleasure trips. Agricultural diesel is cheaper in all EU countries. Traffic light politicians can no longer be seen, not only in the rural east and north, but even in green and black Swabia. Border crossings are blocked in Poland. It’s about Ukrainian grain and oilseed imports because the EU Commission is unable to organize the “solidarity corridors” in such a way that feed grain does not end up on domestic markets but is shipped to world markets.

In the Czech Republic there was a big tractor rally in Prague on Monday. Since the organizers included the former head of the Chamber of Agriculture Zdeněk Jandejsek, who is involved in the EU-critical Trikolóra party, and journalists also discovered “lateral thinkers”, the farmers’ protests were framed in the media as “right-wing”. Jandejsek’s successor Jan Doležal, who declared his solidarity with German farmers in January, nevertheless announced a blockade of border crossings to protest against the fall in the price of agricultural products and the simultaneous increase in costs. Farmers stand up against the “Green Deal”

Small farms are struggling

In France, it is cheap imports from Spain that are being set on fire, or the Mercosur agreement with southern Latin America that are fueling the protests. The increase in agricultural diesel prices has already been reversed by the new government under Gabriel Attal. And in Brussels, 1,200 tractor drivers vandalized the Place du Luxembourg, where MEPs usually relax in outdoor cafes with their assistants, interns, lobbyists and visitors, and toppled the monument to John Cockerill, the founder of the Belgian steel industry.

The main cause of all farmers’ protests is the EU agricultural budget for the period from 2021 to 2027. This involves 387 billion euros in subsidies, the allocation of which is tied to ever new requirements, reporting and control obligations. These are romantically conceived in big city offices and roof terraces, but are not clouded by any agricultural expertise. For example, fallow areas, flower strips, hedges along country roads or other “extensifications” in grazing livestock farming are arranged. However, the farming bans are detrimental to many smaller farms.

The EU renaturation law requires that all peatlands that have been laboriously reclaimed be “wetted” again by 2050 and that all other reclaimed ecosystems be “restored”. It is not yet entirely clear whether this also applies to old arms of the Rhine, the Oderbruch or even the Pontic Marshes, once breeding grounds for malaria southeast of Rome. A good fifth of the forest will no longer be managed. The use of plant protection products is to be halved by regulation through “precision agriculture”. How this will work in the case of pest infestations in fruit and vegetable cultivation, potatoes, corn and sugar beets is not revealed.

Agricultural loans for farmers are becoming the exception

Hovering over everything is the “Green Deal”, invented in 2019 by EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and her former deputy Frans Timmermans, now head of a green-red electoral alliance in the Netherlands. The EU, responsible for less than nine percent of “climate emissions” in the world, is the only major organization to take the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement deadly seriously: greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 and by 90 percent by 2040 sink. By 2050, Europe should be completely “climate neutral”.

Agriculture is not left unscathed. Thanks to “CO₂ pricing”, the price of diesel will rise to three euros per liter in the future. But tractors and combine harvesters cannot be “electrified”. Of the 136 Green Deal regulations, 32 concern agriculture. The “Deforestation Ordinance” requires proof that meat was not produced on cleared areas. Agricultural loans are only available to farmers if they comply with the green taxonomy regulation and contribute to decarbonization. Cattle farming and dairy farming are climate sinners that emit methane. But a look at NASA’s methane world map shows that the main culprits are the oil and gas fields of Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and the USA as well as the coal mines of China and the garbage dumps of India.

Farmers

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