Tractor blockades and noisy rallies everywhere from Romania to Germany in vocal protest of an earnings squeeze that they blame partly or in some cases, wholly, on green policies including pesticide bans and nitrogen emissions curbs.
Richard Newson a New Zealander expatriate residing in Germany, joins REX host Dom George to discuss the current state of unrest among European farmers, specifically those in Germany.
He details the underlying causes of the widespread protests, linking them to the European Green Deal's environmental policies that have inadvertently put financial strain on the farming community.
Newson highlights a critical flashpoint: "what actually set this one off, the drop that made the barrel overflow, is that the government took off the subsidies from agricultural diesel."
This removal of financial support, initially in place due to farmers not using roads, sparked significant unrest as it was seen as an additional economic burden during already trying times, exacerbated by recent inflation.
The conversation then pivots to the broader context of the European Green Deal, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of farming through measures such as pesticide bans, nitrogen emission curbs, and the 'farm to fork' strategy.
Newson points out the impracticality of these goals, "They've got these goals that aren't actually realistic," and how they threaten the livelihoods of farmers by reducing their competitive edge. He also notes the solidarity among various groups in the protests, "not just the farming protests...we've got the whole small businesses getting into it as well."
Despite the challenges, Newson shares a personal touch, describing his cultural integration into Germany since moving in 2006. He reflects on his experience of adapting to a new country.
"I had to learn the language and learn a new culture, learn a whole new agriculture."
Working in cattle genetics, he has navigated the complexities of the industry while fostering a personal connection to his new home. Having spent more than 15 years in Germany, Newson commented on the seriousness of such significant action in such a peaceful place.
"German people tend to be quite calm and collected...so when you get a protest of this size...there is really something behind it."
The conversation touches upon the misconceptions and political tactics, where some have attempted to dismiss the protests by labelling them as extremist, a tactic Newson criticises for diluting the true dangers of extremism.
Listen to the full chat between Richard Newson and Dominic George above.