Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) defended the planned abolition of tax breaks for agricultural diesel ahead of the farmers’ protests planned for Monday.

At the same time, he defended Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) against criticism. “The Federal Chancellor, the Finance Minister and I had to make the decision on agricultural diesel subsidies in the spirit of an overall solution,” Habeck told the dpa. “It wasn’t easy and I also know about the hardships. The Minister of Agriculture warned against canceling the agricultural diesel subsidy. Cem Özdemir knows the situation of the farmers and the burden and has made that very clear.”

Habeck said he also discussed these arguments with his government partners. “But as a result of the Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling, we have to make do with less money and limit spending. And the three of us made this decision as part of the overall package.”

Farmers’ protest announced in Berlin

The German Farmers’ Association has called for a rally in Berlin this Monday under the motto “Too much is too much”. This is intended to show outrage over the end to regulations on agricultural diesel and vehicle tax exemptions for agriculture and forestry.

Protests against cuts in the agricultural sector are also becoming louder in the Union. “The traffic lights are losing the last spark of trust in the agricultural and food industry in Germany,” said CDU deputy chairwoman and member of the Bundestag Silvia Breher to the dpa. The green industry is burdened with an additional burden of almost one billion euros per year. “This decision does not serve the climate because alternatives are not available to farmers and foresters.” There is neither planning security nor the necessary financial resources for converting animal husbandry.

The head of the Union’s economic wing, Gitta Connemann, warned that no field could be cultivated without diesel: “A cost explosion is inevitable.” The CDU MP and chairwoman of the SME and Economic Union told the dpa: “The traffic light plans seem like a special sacrifice. One percent of the population should bear ten percent of the savings.” There is a risk of further relocation of food production.

After long negotiations with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP), Economics Minister Habeck agreed on Wednesday how billions in holes in the federal budget for 2024 and in the climate and transformation fund should be plugged following a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court. This also includes the cutback plans in the agricultural sector.