A group of farmers protested in Germany hours after the government partially backed down from austerity plans for the agricultural sector. 

The group of around 300 people prevented German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from getting off the ferry on his return from a visit to Hooge. 

The farmers gathered at the pier in Schluettsiel on the North Sea coast before the arrival of the ferry carrying Habeck, following calls for protests on social media.

Some 30 demonstrators tried to board the ferry, but the farmers were prevented by police using pepper spray.

Police said it was not possible to establish a dialogue between Habeck and the organizers, so the ferry departed again.

Habeck, a member of the environmentalist Green Party and also Minister of Economy and Climate, managed to disembark during the night.

"What makes me think and worry is that the weather in the country has gotten so hot," Habeck said, regretting that it was not possible to talk to the farmers.


The government and opposition condemned the protest. Scholz's spokesman Steffen Hebestreit wrote in X that the ferry blockade "is shameful and violates the rules of democratic society".

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said that "violence against people or objects has no place in political discussions! This casts a shadow over the trial of many peacefully demonstrating farmers."

Joachim Rukwied, President of the German Farmers' Association, said that "personal attacks, abuse, threats, coercion or violence are not right" and that his association respects the privacy of politicians.

The government backed down

In December, the OIaf Scholz government announced plans to cut agricultural subsidies as part of a package to fill a 17 billion euro gap in the 2024 budget. 

In response, farmers protested with tractors in Berlin and called for more demonstrations next week. 

The government partially backtracked on its plan, saying it would keep the car tax exemption for agricultural vehicles and phase in planned reductions in tax breaks for diesel used in agriculture. 

The German Farmers' Union announced that this change was not enough and that it would stick to its planned protests.