TractorsTrac­tors in a blaze of light

Farmers in Germany draw atten­tion to the impor­tance of their work during the pre-Christmas period with illu­mi­nated proces­sions in festively deco­rated trac­tors. The Furrow offers an insight into the illu­mi­nated proces­sions in the Viersen district.

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.