Lights as a sign of hope
The Land sichert Versorgung (Countryside secures supply) association launched illuminated tractor processions in North-Rhine Westphalia in 2020. At the time, this enabled farmers to voice their opinions on agricultural policy safely and at a distance, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. This December, festively decorated tractors and trailers will once again be driving the streets of the Viersen district. The campaign highlights both the Advent season and the current problems in agriculture. Markus Fitzen, co-organizer of the illuminated procession, says: “We are calling for policies to be more practice orientated.”
Decorating is a family affair
In the run-up to the procession, farmers decorate their tractors with their children and partners, so that they can shine brightly during the illuminated drive. At the same time, they paint protest posters and attach them to the tractors. Between 20 and 60 tractors take part in each procession, and numerous farms with John Deere tractors are taking part in the campaign.
Ready to go!
As soon as all participants have gathered at the meeting point, the police inspect the tractors and check the posters and lights are safe and securely attached. Then it’s up onto the tractors and away they go!
A campaign with a heart
The aim of the illuminated procession is to shine a light on regional agriculture and bring joy to fellow human beings. That’s why the tractor convoys drive past retirement homes, children’s hospitals and similar institutions. Thanks to financial support from sponsors, chocolate Father Christmases are purchased every year and distributed during the procession. In addition to bringing a sparkle to the spectators’ eyes, the farmers are also keen to encourage consumers to buy more regional products and to draw attention to the central importance of agriculture.
Blue lights for the tractor convoys
This year, the illuminated processions will take place on the first three weekends in December. The timing not only makes it easier to co-ordinate the police forces that accompany the tractor convoys and cordon off sections of the roads, but also allows farmers to take part in multiple drives. At each event, the tractor convoys drive to a different location, with a single illuminated procession covering an area with a radius of 10km. The convoys cover distances varying between 12 and 40km and the processions can sometimes take up to four hours.
A cheerful finale
After hours of demonstrating together and several stops in front of social institutions, some of the participants go for a drink to round off the evening.