German farmers on Monday kicked off what the head of their national association vowed would be protests the likes of which “the country has never seen before.” The uprising was triggered by the government’s announced plans to end agricultural diesel subsidies and vehicle-tax exemptions. Since then, thousands of tractors have blocked highways and city centers in what the industry has called its “week of courage.”
The unrest comes against a backdrop of growing food insecurity and industrial incapacity in Germany and across Europe—as well as fears of a far-right electoral triumph looming around the corner; Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck warned on Sunday of the possibility of a coup by right-wing extremists determined to undermine democracy. Yet driven by a fanatic commitment to the green agenda, German elites keep pressing on.
The farmers’ discontent is about more than just tax breaks and subsidies. It’s the latest manifestation of a long-standing resentment toward an environmental agenda that farmers across Europe say jeopardizes their livelihoods. But policymakers don’t care. They are determined to degrade and marginalize entire ways of life seen as “unsustainable” to the planet, and will do whatever it takes to win.
European headlines keep asking, in effect: “Why are the farmers rebelling?” The better question is: Why aren’t those in power relenting? This isn’t the first time farmers have been up in arms. Across Europe, from France to Finland and the Netherlands, farmers have been protesting forcefully against policies that threaten their livelihoods.