Bavarian premier promises fertilizer law review as thousands protest

Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder on Monday promised a review of a proposed fertilizer law as thousands of angry farmers, many driving tractors, protested outside a conference of his party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

Around 2,000 farmers took part in the demonstration in the town of Seeon-Seebruck, organized by a group called Land Schafft Verbindung, which roughly translates as “countryside connects.” About 1,000 tractors were driven into the small Bavarian town.

Farmers say the distribution of fertilization measuring sites, upon which a proposed new law is to be based, is not representative. They claim that falsified information was sent to the European Union (EU). They say also that the law cannot work in practice and that they completely reject the current proposal.

Soeder said that the law is not simply about the fulfilment of requirements but about the spirit behind it – and this spirit shows extreme mistrust of German agriculture. He also criticized the back-and-forth around the law in government and advocated a permanent committee in which the agricultural and environmental ministries would cooperate.

The bill aims to address the amount of fertilizer and manure spread on fields and their effect on nitrate levels in groundwater and rivers.

Brussels and Berlin have been at odds for several years over high concentrations of nitrates in German groundwater, which can harm the environment, animals and humans.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of the EU on the matter, prompting the German government to further tighten restrictioens it had changed only in 2017.

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