How farmer protests are set to shut down Germany’s streets

Thousands of farmers are getting on their tractors and protesting across Germany as they make their way to Berlin in a demo against the government.

How farmer protests are set to shut down Germany's streets
Farmers protesting in Berlin last month. Photo: DPA

FOLLOW the latest news on Tuesday's tractor protest in Berlin HERE

It's the latest in series of protests being held against the government's new agricultural package.

Since the weekend, farmers across the country have been getting on their tractors and travelling across German cities and the countryside.

In Düsseldorf, about 535 farmers with tractors drove the city on Monday, causing lots of disruption.

According to police, a “gigantic” demonstration and rally is set to take place in Berlin on Tuesday, reported the Berliner Morgenpost.

A total of 10,000 protesters with 5,000 tractors and agricultural machinery are registered to take part in the demo from 9.30am to 8pm.

It comes just over a month after a nationwide demonstration. Up to 10,000 farmers along with about 1,000 tractors gathered in the western German city of Bonn, where the German Agriculture Ministry is based, on October 22nd.

READ ALSO: German farmers shut down streets in nationwide protest against government plans

Protests also took place in 17 other cities, including Berlin, Munich, Bayreuth, Erfurt, Rendsburg, Hanover, Oldenburg, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Leipzig and Görlitz.

Around 4,000 farmers also demonstrated in Hamburg earlier this month, on November 14th.

The demos are being organized by the movement Land schafft Verbindung (countryside creates connection) as well as the German Farmers' Association and the alliance Forum Natur.

Why exactly are farmers protesting?

Farmers are angry about new planned regulations which Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, of the CDU, and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, of the SPD, presented at the beginning of September.

Among other things, the government package stipulates that the weedkiller glyphosate will be banned in Germany by the end of 2023 after a phasing-out period.

READ ALSO: 'What harms insects harms people': Germany to ban cancer-linked pesticide

The government is also proposing to reduce the nitrate content in ground water by cutting the use of certain fertilizers and liquid manure.

But many German farmers say they are still coping with large amounts of excess nitrate from the past.

There are fears that the agricultural package will endanger family-run farms, according to the Land schafft Verbindung.

Tractors in Düsseldorf on Monday. Photo: DPA

How will the demonstration impact Berlin?

In Berlin on Tuesday, the tractors are expected to bring parts of the city to a standstill.

They will drive into the city centre and gather at the Victory Column/Siegessaule (near Brandenburg Gate) from five different locations: from the north in Frohnau on the Bundesstraße 96 Oranienburger Chaussee and from the north-east on the Bundesstraße 2 Dorfstraße/ Malchower Chaussee.

Further convoys will cross the state borders in the east on the Alt-Mahlsdorf road (Bundesstraße 1), in the south on the Bundesstraße 96 Kirchhainer Dammm and in the west on the Bundesstraße 5 Hamburger Chaussee and Heerstraße and they will drive towards the city centre. The meeting point is Straße des 17. Juni where the Victory Column stands.

There is expected to be major traffic disruption in the city throughout the day. According to authorities, there will be considerable problems along the routes in the districts of Mitte and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, especially on the Tangente Heerstraße, Kaiserdamm, Bismarckstraße and the Straße des 17. Juni.

According to Berlin traffic information centre, the Bismarckstraße – Kaiserdamm road will be completely closed when the tractor convoys arrive. No individual traffic, no delivery traffic and no taxi traffic will be allowed on the road. 

For this purpose, 'no stopping' areas will be in place from 6am to 3pm for the lanes and the central reservation between Ernst-Reuter-Platz and Wundtstraße. In addition, the exits Beusselstraße (direction Wedding), Kaiserdamm-Süd (direction Neukölln) and Tempelhofer Damm (both directions) will be closed on the A100 between 9am and 9pm.

Tractors in Düsseldorf on Monday. Photo: DPA

The police are advising residents to leave their cars at home and opt for the S-Bahn and U-Bahn to travel. Considerable delays are expected in the bus and tram network, too.

Here are the routes affected in Berlin in more detail:

Route 1: State border B96 Oranienburger Chaussee – Berliner Straße – Oraniendamm – Oranienburger Straße – left Roedernallee – left Lindauer Allee – Residenzstraße – right Marktstraße – right Seestraße – left Beusselstr. – left Alt-Moabit – right Gotzkowskystraße – left Levetzowstraße – Altonaer Straße – Großer Stern – Straße des 17. Juni

Route 2: Border B2 Dorfstraße – Malchower Chaussee – Berliner Allee – right Ostseestraße – Wisbyer Straße – Bornholmer Straße – Osloer Straße – Seestraße – left Beusselstraße – left Alt-Moabit – right Gotzkowskystraße – left Levetzowstraße – Altonaer Straße – Großer Stern – Straße des 17. Juni

Route 3: State border B1 Alt-Mahlsdorf – Alt-Kaulsdorf – Alt-Biesdorf – Alt-Friedrichsfelde – Frankfurter Allee – Frankfurter Tor – Karl-Marx-Allee – right Otto-Braun-Straße – left Mollstraße – Torstraße – Hannoversche Straße – Hessische Straße – left Invaliedenstraße – right Alt Moabit – left Stromstraße – Lessingstraße – left Altonaer Straße – Großer Stern – Straße des 17. Juni

Route 4: State border B96 Kirchhainer Damm – Lichtenrader Damm – Mariendorfer Damm – Tempelhofer Damm – Platz der Luftbrücke – Mehringdamm – Wilhelmstraße – left Hallesches Ufer – Potsdamer Brücke – Reichpietschufer – Von-der-Heydt-Straße – right Klingelhöferstraße – Hofjägerallee – Großer Stern – Straße des 17. Juni

Route 5: State border B5 Hamburger Chaussee – B2 Heerstr. – Theodor-Heuss-Platz – right Kaiserdamm – Bismarckstraße – Ernst-Reuter-Platz – right Str. d. 17. June – Großer Stern – Straße des 17. June

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WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules

A US decision to slap steep import duties on Spanish olives over claims they benefited from subsidies constituted a violation of international trade rules, the World Trade Organisation ruled Friday.

WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules
Farmers had just begun harvesting olives in southern Spain when former US President Donald Trump soured the mood with the tariffs' announcement. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Former US president Donald Trump’s administration slapped extra tariffs on Spain’s iconic agricultural export in 2018, considering their olives were subsidised and being dumped on the US market at prices below their real value.

The combined rates of the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties go as high as 44 percent.

The European Commission, which handles trade policy for the 27 EU states, said the move was unacceptable and turned to the WTO, where a panel of experts was appointed to examine the case.

In Friday’s ruling, the WTO panel agreed with the EU’s argument that the anti-subsidy duties were illegal.

But it did not support its stance that the US anti-dumping duties violated international trade rules.

The panel said it “recommended that the United States bring its measures into conformity with its obligations”.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis hailed the ruling, pointing out that the US duties “severely hit Spanish olive producers.”

Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid, called by the olive sector
Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid called by the olive sector to denounce low prices of olive oil and the 25 percent tariff that Spanish olives and olive oil faced in the United States. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

“We now expect the US to take the appropriate steps to implement the WTO ruling, so that exports of ripe olives from Spain to the US can resume under normal conditions,” he said.

The European Commission charges that Spain’s exports of ripe olives to the United States, which previously raked in €67 million ($75.6 million) annually, have shrunk by nearly 60 percent since the duties were imposed.

The office of the US Trade Representative in Washington did not immediately comment on the ruling.

According to WTO rules, the parties have 60 days to file for an appeal.

If the United States does file an appeal though, it would basically amount to a veto of the ruling.

That is because the WTO Appellate Body — also known as the supreme court of world trade — stopped functioning in late 2019 after Washington blocked the appointment of new judges.