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German tractors clog Berlin as farmer protests reach climax

Farmers are in the German capital for a fresh day of protests against planned subsidies for the agricultural sector.

German farmers converged on Berlin on Monday for demonstrations that were expected to fill the streets around the city's famous Brandenburg Gate.

The protesters are demanding a full rethink on plans to hike taxes on farming operations.

What we know so far

It was expected that the protests would draw some 3,000 tractors and 2,000 trucks, as well as people from across Germany.

Thousands of farmers are expected to attend the culmination of protests in the German capital that have lasted for more than a week. Farmers have blocked highway entrances outside cities and blocked main thoroughfares within them.

Central to the dispute is a government plan to phase out tax relief on agricultural diesel, something that has been in place for more than 70 years.

Berlin says it will now gradually phase those subsidies out rather than abolishing them all at once as had been initially planned.

In other concessions, the government has already scrapped a planned abolition of the motor vehicle tax exemption for farmers as well as tax breaks on new vehicles.

The additional levies on the agricultural sector were part of a package of measures intended to fill a yawning gap in the government budget after a top court ruling at the end of last year that scuppered the existing plans of Germany's three-way coalition.

German lorry drivers and freight forwarders are also supporting the demonstrations.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner is set to address the protest and leaders of Germany's ruling coalition parties have invited protest leaders for talks.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday urged calm ahead of the latest effort to bring Berlin to a standstill, amid fears that the far right is trying to infiltrate the protests.

"We've taken the farmers' arguments to heart and revised our proposals. A good compromise," he added.

Source: Dw

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