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35,000 Hit Streets of Berlin to Demand Agricultural Revolution

"This protest shows that the desire for a different agricultural policy is now undeniable."

Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on January 19, 2019 in Berlin, Germany

Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on January 19, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Thousands of people participated in the march to protest against the current system of disbursement of EU farm subsidies in Germany. Activists complain that large-scale farms receive too much and that the system needs to better fund farmers pursuing environment and climate-friendly farming methods. The protest is coinciding with the Green Week agricultural trade fair currently taking place in Berlin. (Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals, and rural farmers.

Many held placards reading "Eating is political" at the action in Berlin, which coincided with the so-called "Green Week" agricultural fair.

The protest also featured a procession of 170 farmers driving tractors to the rally at the Brandenburg Gate.

"This protest," said Green party co-leader Robert Habeck, "shows that the desire for a different agricultural policy is now undeniable."

As DW reports

Protesters called out by some 100 organizations asserted that alleviation of climate change and species depletion required a reorganization of EU farming policy, including subsidies, currently amounting to €60 billion ($68 billion) annually, including €6.3 billion allocated in Germany.

That flowed mainly to larger companies focused on boosting yields, they said, but instead the funds should be distributed better to avert further farmyard closures and rural village die-offs.

"With over €6 billion that Germany distributes every year as EU farming monies, environmental and animal-appropriate transformation of agriculture must be promoted," said protest spokesperson Saskia Richartz.

Slow Food Europe captured some of the scenes on social media, and stated in a Twitter thread: "We believe that instead of propping up agro-industries, politicians should support the determination of small-scale farmers to keep climate-friendly farms, which are the future of agriculture."

The "inspiring gathering" capped off a week in which thousands of youth climate protetsters in Europe, including at dozens of actions in Germany, rebuked the lack of urgent action to address the climate crisis. 

Noted activist and Swedish student Greta Thunberg, whose "strikes for climate" have inspired similar actions across the globe, nodded to the Swiss and German actions, writing Friday on Twitter: "The people are rising. The world is at a tipping point. Now we have to continue pushing hard! Everyone is needed. This is just the beginning."

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