Berlin Green Week
Berlin Green Week

German farmers converged on Berlin in tractors on Saturday to demand more government support in their customary protest at the International Green Week agricultural fair, which opened to visitors a day earlier.

Participants of the “We are fed up” alliance drove 55 tractors to the capital’s Brandenburg Gate, a spokesperson said. Thousands more people, including climate and animal rights activists, also gathered at the landmark to call for a fast turnaround in agriculture, with more state support and cleaner, greener farming.

Many carried banners and signs, while balloons and a large inflatable insect with the inscriptions “Agribusiness Kills!” were floated in the air. A giant pig effigy was also paraded as the crowd sang “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson on a march from the Brandenburg Gate to the government district.

Organizers said around 10,000 people participated, while police spoke of 7,000. The demonstration was peaceful, a police spokesperson said.

In a note handed to Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir, farmers who had driven to Berlin demanded far greater backing from the ruling coalition, calling the assistance given in the past year “too unambitious, too fainthearted and too slow.”

“We are fed up” demands fairer producer prices, social benefits that enable ecological consumption, and more arable land for growing human food instead of fodder, spokesperson Inka Lange said.

Representatives of organic and conventional farmers, nature, environmental, and animal protection associations, as well as church relief organizations, are involved in the alliance.

The protest has taken place for several years on the occasion of the Green Week, which was paused for two years during the pandemic but finally re-opened on Friday.

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Until January 29, around 1,400 exhibitors from agriculture and the food industry are presenting their products in the Berlin exhibition halls. At the same time, the industry meeting is an important forum for political exchange on the future of agriculture.

In a video message to agriculture ministers gathered for the event, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called for the removal of Russian obstructions to food exports from his country by sea.

More than 100 ships transporting food were stuck near the Bosporus Strait while Russian representatives delayed internationally agreed inspections for weeks, said Zelensky. He warned that this would result in higher global food prices and shortages.

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