Dutch farmers ramp up protests against government’s crippling environmental demands

Agricultural workers have staged several disruptive protests over the Dutch government’s measures to reduce nitrogen emissions

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Thomas Brooke
A sign reads "Our Farmers, Our Future" as some 25 tractors put up a blockade outside a distribution center for supermarket chain Albert Heijn in the town of Zaandam, just north of Amsterdam, Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Dutch farmers continued their protests on Monday against measures approved by the Dutch government to comply with Brussels’ crippling environmental demands and drastically reduce the country’s nitrogen emissions.

Agricultural workers jammed crucial road networks and blocked supermarket distribution hubs in several cities on Monday morning to further express their anger at Mark Rutte’s liberal administration, which approved plans last month that farmers claim will be terminal for the industry.

The latest protests follow efforts last week to block the border between the Netherlands and Germany, which saw thousands of agricultural workers slowly drive their tractors along the nation’s motorways.

The Dutch government is seeking to reduce the country’s emissions of nitrogen oxide, which is released from farm animal manure and the use of ammonia in fertilizer. The Dutch government predicted that a 30 percent reduction in the number of livestock across the country will be required to comply with multiple rulings by the European Court of Justice, which held that Dutch policies to date have failed to address the longstanding problem.

“These reductions are so severe that those rural communities will be totally devastated economically,” said Sander van Diepen, a spokesperson for the Dutch agricultural and horticultural association, LTO Nederland, last month.

The Netherlands currently possesses a considerable livestock population, including some four million cattle, 12 million pigs, and 100 million chickens, and is the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world after the United States.

Dutch farmers argue that at a time of rising inflation leading to a cost-of-living crisis, it is unacceptable to introduce crippling environmental policies that will harm the nation’s most important industry.

“Our members say it’s enough, the limit has been reached,” said Sjaak van der Tak, another LTO spokesperson, more recently.

Despite no official statement from Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday, several reports suggested the Dutch government had mobilized armored vehicles to deploy in response to the protests on Monday.

Dutch opposition parties, including Thierry Baudet’s Forum voor Democratie (FvD), have expressed solidarity with the agricultural workers, releasing a statement on Monday morning that read: “Much understanding for the actions of the #boeren (farmers). They are not listened to. Their life’s work is in danger of being lost. Demonstrating is all they can do. Our appeal to VVD and CDA: Listen to the farmers, stop this destructive policy.”

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