Dutch farmers armed with tractors, blazing hay bales, and piles of manure are coming out in droves to protest new climate emission restrictions that threaten to shut down 30% of the farming industry in the Netherlands.
Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “Farmers have the right to protest, but not to break the law.” He added that endangering others or intimidating officials was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.
The protests began at the end of June and have escalated since. Some 40,000 farmers gathered in the central Netherlands in the small agricultural town of Stroe, about 45 miles from the capital city Amsterdam. Travel across the country was desperately snarled as the protestors drove to and from the demonstration on their tractors.
Near the German border, angry farm workers blocked the border, obstructing a round-about, Geneva Radio tweeted. Also, according to Yahoo News, one of the busiest highways in the country was utterly blocked by tractors. City streets in several areas were filled with tractors, honking their horns, caution lights flashing, while citizens gathered alongside the road peering at the spectacle.
The social group, We Are Protestors showed tractors inching along the highway. Other groups and news media correspondents posted videos and photos of hay bales in the middle of the road and cows in front of the parliament building. Airports, food distribution centers, and seaports were blocked as fishers joined the fight. Signs on trucks, tractors even t-shirts read, “No Farms – No Food.
What is the protest over?
According to ABC News, the ruling coalition in the government has taken drastic measures to control failing grade emissions numbers. The government passed legislation slashing the nitrogen oxide and ammonia emission numbers by 70% in many places and 95% in some areas.
The governing body drew up the plan because the courts have refused infrastructure construction since 2019 because the country is missing its emission target goals. Each Dutch province was given a year to figure out a plan to reduce the emission levels. The farmers claim they are bearing the brunt of the new climate agenda plan.
The government warned that the farmers would have to adapt or risk shutting their businesses. Governing authorities said in a statement last month, “The honest message … is that not all farmers can continue their business,” and those who do will likely have to farm differently. One suggestion was to relocate.
However, young farmers like Marijan van Heun, a 23-year-old dairy farmer from the central Utrecht province, said the government plans were stripping young farmers of their futures.
“We cannot invest. Our fathers, our uncles, cannot invest in the future. And so, as young farmers, we also have no prospect of … taking over a farm,” he said. Farming is their way of life.
The Netherlands is the second-largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. However, the war between Russia and Ukraine has strained food supplies globally. Cutting the number of farms, the number of livestock and food production in the Netherlands could trigger more significant global shortages.
There is no question that the farmers’ message is being heard. According to Aljazeera News, this is not the first time the farmers have protested by blocking traffic with tractors. In 2019, a similar demonstration was conducted for similar reasons. Three years ago, a political party suggested reducing the amounts of livestock to curb the emissions, resulting in protests. At that time, the farmers insisted they were being unfairly targeted as food producers for the nation. The farmers still attest that construction and transportation industries are producing emissions, yet the government has targeted the farmers.