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Thousands march for a new farming policy

January 16, 2016

Tens of thousands of protesters have marched in Berlin to demand a new farming policy for Germany. The demonstration takes place every year as Germany hosts the largest agricultural fair in the world.

Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

Tens of thousands of people gathered at Berlin's Potsdamer Platz square on Saturday to protest. Farmers from different regions of Germany brought more than 130 tractors to accompany the march.

Protesters were participating in the demonstration for the sixth time running. The march, initiated by around 50 environmental and agricultural groups, takes place every year during "Green Week," when Berlin hosts the world's largest agricultural fair. More than 70 countries are participating at this year's initiatve, which concentrates on food supply in big cities.

Organizations participating in Saturday's protests included Greenpeace, German conservation groups NABU and BUND and several other farmer lobbying groups.

"We want to protest for ecologically friendly agriculture. We've had enough of the agricultural industry," Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said.

This year's motto is "Wir haben es satt," roughly translated as "We have had enough." Activists believe that agriculture is at a turning point. They accuse the German government and the agricultural industry of increasing exports by offering dumping prices and lowering animal protection standards. This has destroyed farmers in Germany and around the world.

Germany needs to concentrate on fair trade, activists insist, adding that the government must stop promoting big farming companies and improve quality instead of focusing on exports. Supermarkets needed to use separate labeling to show the origin of meat and milk products as well as a ban on genetically modified produce.

The demonstrators are also against the upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Industrial Pact (TTIP) between the US and The European Union and the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (Ceta) between the EU and Canada.

mg/jlw (dpa, EPD)