Demo „We've had enough of agro-industry“ – 9 demands for a change
Picture: start of the demo at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Photo © Karin Heinze
Election year and Green Week: time to talk about the future of agriculture and to demonstrate for a change of direction in agriculture. The seventh “We've had enough” demo in Berlin was an opportunity to do just that – 18,000 people went onto the streets. The motley crowd marched through the government district in Berlin, but the events before and after the demo too were also a platform for targeting the demands of the organic industry, animal welfare organisations, environmentalists and critics of capitalism etc. at politicians.
Before the demo, the representatives of the “We've had enough” alliance, that comprises over 100 organisations, had handed in at the Ministry of Agriculture the demands they are making in view of the upcoming federal election. The substance of the 9-point plan: the grave crises in agriculture require determined action, not empty words (Video). people.
“We demand an end to subsidies for the agro-industry and a halt to mega mergers in the agricultural sector. Instead, we need incentives for farmers to maintain a high level of animal welfare and to farm using methods that protect the environment,“ says Jochen Fritz, spokesperson of the “We've had enough!” alliance.
Picture: Hubert Weiger, BUND (Friends of the Earth), held his speech at Potsdamer Platz in front of thousands of people. Photo © Karin Heinze
At the start of the demo the participants and 130 tractors gathered at and round the Potsdamer Platz. The unifying motto of the protest march was “Agricultural corporations, keep your hands off our food!” Hubert Weiger, chairman of the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), was one of the speakers and he said: “The current agricultural policy is responsible for the closure of farms, damage to the environment and a loss of species. A change of direction, a policy that gives farmers a future again, is long overdue. Animals must be kept in a way that is acceptable in our society. We call on all democratic parties to say a loud and clear No to carrying on as before in agriculture and at long last to get to grips with the necessary reforms.”
Picture: 130 tractors were leading the rally. Photo © Karin Heinze
The 9-point plan in the election year
The 9-point plan is presented under three headings – Smaller-scale farms instead of agro-industry; Healthy food instead of pollution of the environment and animal suffering; Democracy instead of corporate power. The detailed demands under these headings include by 2020:
- enabling a minimum of 50% of procurement by public institutions from regional and organic agriculture
- reducing antibiotics by at least a half and immediately stopping the misuse of antibiotics
- a massive reduction in the use of pesticides and not introducing genetic engineering via the back door
- under Democracy instead of corporate power the alliance seeks to break up mega corporations in the agriculture and food sector and to prevent further mergers
- mandatory labelling for animal keeping, GM in fodder and the origin of all food products
Picture: glyphosate - always a topic to protest aagainst. Photo © Karin Heinze
As Jochen Fritz, the spokesperson for the “We've had enough” alliance pointed out, subsides to agro-industry have to stop and there should be no more mergers of big agricultural companies. What they want is to incentivise farmers to operate in such a way that animal welfare and caring for the environment are priorities.
The alliance is very critical of the misguided agricultural policy
Speaking for the alliance means that Fritz is speaking for its more than 100 members in the agricultural sector, such as bee-keepers, nature, animal and consumer protection organisations, development organisations and the artisan food trade. Fritz went on to say: “Schmidt, our federal Minister of Agriculture, must ultimately ensure that smaller-scale farms benefit from switching to a more ecological, more animal-friendly kind of agriculture, a restructuring that our society wants to see. Mr Schmidt must not waste any more time and he must come up with agricultural policies for farmers instead of for agro-industry.”
Picture: tractors and protesters as far as the eye can reach - the organizers counted 130 traktors and 18,000 participants. Photo © Karin Heinze
The alliance is very critical of the misguided agricultural policy over the last ten years for having caused more than 100,000 farms to close. Moreover, agricultural policy in Germany, especially excessive meat production, damages the environment and the climate and, because of dumping abroad, small-scale farms are being destroyed all over the world. At the same time, bigger and bigger global corporations are being created. The alliance regards the merger of the chemical corporations Bayer and Monsanto as a huge threat, since in future more than 60% of the seed and agrochemicals market will be dominated by three mega corporations. The cartel authorities should prevent farms and consumers becoming dependent on patented seed. For all to see on a tractor belonging to a Brandenburg farmer: “Bayer and Monsanto, keep off our land!”
Young farmers need land
“Agro-industry is is not what we want” chanted the young farmers who were present in large numbers near the front and who also had the honour of carrying the two banners at the head of the march. “The younger generation wants a future in farming, but too many obstacles are put in our way,” explained, for example, the 26-year-old farmer Julia Rupp from Baden-Württemberg who called for a law to regulate the structure of agriculture to ensure land purchasing and leasing rights are given to young farmers and not to investors.
Head of the demo with VIP people from the organic sector. Photo © Karin Heinze
The organisers emphasise that the demonstration's target is the agro-industry, not conventional farmers. For seven years “We've had enough!” has been promoting dialogue between civil society, conventional farmers, organic farmers and artisan food producers to join forces in order to find ways of creating a future form of agriculture by and for farmers.
Picture: protest against mega mergers in the agro-industry. Photo © Karin Heinze
Picture:a crew of 50 people from the German organic supermarket chain Landwege EVG came from Lübeck in Northern Germany to Berlin for the demo. Photo © Karin Heinze
Picture: the German retailerTegut came with 20 trainees to the demo. Photo © tegut
Picture: also very young protesters accompanied the demonstration. Photo © Karin Heinze
Picture: the rally ended up at the Brandenburger Tor, where the final rally took place. Photo © Karin Heinze
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