What Farmers’ Protests and the “Last Generation” Have in Common

by | Jan 8, 2024 | Explore Local | 0 comments

What the Farmer Protests and the “Last Generation” Have in Common

The recent protests by farmers in Saxony, Germany, have drawn comparisons to the demonstrations by the “Last Generation” movement. While both groups engage in street blockades, there are notable differences in their approaches and motivations.

Farmer Protests and Demonstrations by the “Last Generation”

The farmers from the association “Land schafft Verbindung” organized more than 100 demonstrations, causing major traffic disruptions in Saxony. These actions on social media have been compared to the street blockades carried out by the “Last Generation.” However, a key distinction is made by Marc Bernhardt, a farmer and co-organizer of the protests: “I do not want to comment on the actions of the Last Generation; it is not my place to do so.” Bernhardt emphasizes that the farmers’ blockades are properly authorized and coordinated with the authorities, in contrast to those who spontaneously glue themselves to the streets without official permission.

“Unsere Blockaden werden alle angemeldet und intensiv mit den Ordnungsbehörden durchgesprochen, das ist der große Unterschied zu denen, die sich einfach irgendwo festkleben und dann auf Aufforderung nicht weggehen.”

In response to comparisons between the protests, Police spokesperson Richard Baldeweg from the Ministry of the Interior confirms that the blockades by the “Last Generation” were regularly unreported, leading to a lack of cooperation and official restrictions. Despite this, both the farmer protests and the “Last Generation” demonstrations fall under the Assembly Act and directly impact public safety and the rights of others.

Similar Goals, Different Perspectives

Notably, both groups recognize the legitimacy of street blockades as a democratic means of protest, as long as they remain peaceful and ensure the availability of emergency lanes. Christian Bläul, a physicist and climate activist closely associated with the “Last Generation,” supports the farmers’ protests, acknowledging the financial hardships they face. Bläul believes that regional food production should be better rewarded and advocates for the reduction of environmentally damaging subsidies that have resulted in delayed availability of electrically powered farm equipment.

The “Last Generation” has planned its own traffic blockade in Dresden, scheduled for the following day. While they advocate for a sustainable transportation system, they are also bringing attention to the issues raised by the farmer protests, urging reductions in the market power of major food retailers and the need for EU agricultural policies that support climate protection and adaptation for farmers.

The Necessity of Protests

Both farmers and the “Last Generation” justify their protests on the grounds of necessity. According to Bernhardt, the farmers have been actively seeking political engagement in the past, demonstrating in front of state parliaments and the Bundestag (German federal parliament), but their concerns have often been met with indifference. Now, due to their increasingly precarious situation, they feel the need to grab the public’s attention.

Christian Bläul expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with Sächsische.de, stating that alternative methods of raising awareness had been attempted but failed to generate sufficient attention. He emphasized that creating a stir is currently a crucial political currency.

Farmers blockading the freeway entrance in Dresden Wilder Mann.
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This image shows farmers blocking the freeway entrance in Dresden Wilder Mann. A sign with the inscription “Beware of storms, wind, and angry farmers” is affixed to one of the tractors.

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