I noticed them on the drive home from the airport in January. Green crosses by the roadside. Those weren’t there when we left.
In Canada roadside crosses usually mean there has been a fatal accident at that spot. They aren’t green though. I wondered what the significance was of these new German crosses.
My first thought was that they too signified a spot where there had been a vehicle accident. The first two I noticed were indeed at places I knew as accident locations, though only one of those was a fatality.
Then I started seeing the crosses everywhere. It was as if there was one (or more) in every field I passed. I know the driving around here can be crazy, but certainly there couldn’t be that many accidents, could there? So I asked a friend, a grape farmer, what the story was.
Turns out the crosses are part of a nation-wide protest. Apparently the government has new rules on the use of pesticides, rules many farmers think will force them out of business. The crosses started appearing in October 2019.
I think everyone is in agreement that less pesticide use is better for the environment. And I don’t know the details of the new regulations. Maybe they are reasonable and the protesters aren’t.
Still, pesticides cost money. They are an expense that cuts into the profit margin. I can’t see that farmers would use them unless they felt they were necessary.
This isn’t an organized protest, or at least it doesn’t look like it to me. The crosses are handmade, no two alike. They seem to be in every farmer’s field, at least in the area where I live.
I have no idea how effective such a protest is going to be. I haven’t looked at the legislation being protested, nor do I have any feeling for how effective such protests have been in Germany in the past.
I do know that even with more than 10,000 crosses in fields across the country, no-one is really paying any attention to the protest today, and probably won’t for months to come. With a worldwide pandemic even worthy causes are going to be completely ignored.
At least until we come up with a new normal. COVID-19 is bringing permanent change, that seems inevitable. We just don’t know yet what those changes are going to be.