“Investing in one thing often requires defunding another.”
Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan, who served during President Barack Obama’s first term, wrote those words in a May piece published by the website The Conversation.
Undoubtedly, she is correct. But where that money comes from depends on which seat you sit in, the producer or the politician.
This is exactly the problem German farmers are raising in a nationwide protest that started Monday and are expected to continue all week, according to Reuters. Their subsidies are being strangled. So are they.
“In some areas, farmers used tractors to block entry roads to highways early Monday,” The Associated Press reported.
“There was disruption due to convoys of tractors in and around some cities, too. Production at a Volkswagen auto plant in Emden in northwestern Germany was stopped because access roads were blocked, preventing employees from getting to work, German news agency dpa reported.”
As tractors become a symbol of protests across the country, the crux of their anger is simple. German farmers are unhappy with the budget cuts being made by the administration of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the coalition government Scholz’s Social Democratic Party leads. Those cuts are impacting subsidies on fuel needed to operate farm equipment.
According to Reuters, “Farmers say that government plans to end two tax breaks — which currently save them about 900 million euros ($980 million) per year — unfairly burdens them and will drive them out of business.”
In other words, they are fighting for their livelihoods, forcing Scholz’s hand as he struggles with “trying to keep a lid on the unrest while sticking to fiscal discipline after a constitutional court ruling in November threw its spending plans into disarray,” Reuters reported.
Sub-zero temperatures did little to stop the protest made up of tractors and trucks. Seems the fire inside them was enough to quell the frigid weather and make a statement to German politicians on the world stage.
Warnings by the government that the existing unrest and growing public disapproval of Scholz’s coalition will spark extremist actions and provide a leg to far-right activist groups continue to be shared. Isn’t it like the government to place its own self-preservation ahead of the farmers? Speaks to why the farmers have gotten to this point. Seems that they have been forced.
But they are not without their power to make a statement, one worthy of the group that feeds their nation. Although the administration has already walked back relevant subsidy cuts to appease them, German farmers are saying that it hasn’t gone far enough.
In their “week of courage,” as it is being called according to the U.K. Telegraph, farmers are being joined by machinists, rail workers, and truck drivers. All are demanding to be prioritized and financially recognized for their significance in keeping Germany humming. Doctors may soon be joining the act as well.
According to The Telegraph, Joachim Rukwied, the president of the German farmers’ association, launched a tirade Wednesday, accusing government officials of living in a “Berlin bubble” and being completely out of touch with the rest of the nation.
The Scholz coalition should pay attention to “those who keep Germany running through their daily work, including farmers,” he said, according to The Telegraph, before claiming that the government was being advised by people “who have never worked and never sweated.”
Undoubtedly, it is the same message U.S. farmers and ranchers will send the Biden administration in the November election, according to a poll of U.S. farmers commissioned by Agri-Pulse, a news and opinion website that focuses on agricultural issues.
“They believe the nation is on the wrong track, and a strong plurality support electing Donald Trump to another term as president,” Agri-Pulse reported.
According to Agri-Pulse, “the survey, conducted online from Dec. 14-22, includes representative samples of farmers and ranchers with at least $100,000 in gross farm income in the Midwest, South and California.”
Terrorism and repairing transportation infrastructure dominated results in importance. These were followed by the sale of U.S. farm products overseas, the federal budget deficit, illegal immigration, protection of water quality, and environmental regulations.
“Climate change” trailed behind the others, which seems to show how out-of-touch our own government is.
According to the American Farmer Bureau Federation, “One U.S. farm feeds 166 people annually in the U.S. and abroad. The global population is expected to increase by 2.2 billion by 2050, which means the world’s farmers will have to grow about 70% more food than what is now produced.”
With those kind of numbers, you would think governments would listen to those doing the actual growing.
It seems that that is just too much logic for governments to contemplate.
According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, “agriculture, food, and related industries contributed roughly $1.264 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, a 5.4-percent share. The output of America’s farms contributed $164.7 billion of this sum—about 0.7 percent of U.S. GDP.”
“The overall contribution of agriculture to GDP is larger than 0.7 percent because sectors related to agriculture rely on agricultural inputs in order to contribute added value to the economy. Sectors related to agriculture include: food and beverage manufacturing; food and beverage stores; food services and eating/drinking places; textiles, apparel, and leather products; and forestry and fishing.”
And yet overall net farm income will fall to $141.3 billion in 2023 while “production expenses increase 6.9% to $29.5 billion,” the ERS projected, according to Agri-Pulse.
If the global population is rising, and U.S. food production is earning less, this will reflect production capabilities. How will it be made up and expanded? Or will we be eating bugs?
Seems like U.S. farmers need to take a lesson from German farmers. They seemingly suffer from the same issue, liberal politicians whose agendas don’t reflect reality or respect the farming and ranching community’s experience or intelligence. There is no partnership here. Just grifting.
Is it any wonder liberal politicians are panicked by conservative voices?
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.