Dutch farmers protest against government plans to cut emissions

Tractors blocked motorways during a farmers' protest near Hapert, Netherlands earlier this week (Photo: ROB ENGELAAR/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Tractors blocked motorways during a farmers' protest near Hapert, Netherlands earlier this week (Photo: ROB ENGELAAR/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Mass protests in the Netherlands organised by farmers angry with new government plans to cut nitrogen emissions have now spread to other European countries.

Dutch farmers started to protest in late June due to anger over new rules that will force the industry to cut their nitrogen fertiliser use.

Farm leaders say the controversial plan could lead producers to slash their livestock numbers or even quit the industry altogether.

The Dutch government wants to halve nitrogen compounds by 2030. However, cuts could reach 70 percent in some areas the country.

The government says reductions are particularly necessary from the country's livestock sector, but farmers argue the reforms are unfair.

Footage of the mass protests have gone viral on social media, with clips showing farmers demonstrating in front of public buildings with manure and slurry.

Others show thousands of tractors blockading motorways, as well as supermarket distribution hubs in several cities across the country.

Journalist Keean Bexte, who is covering the protests, said on Twitter: “Farmers who learned from Canadian Freedom Protesters are currently blockading the Netherlands/Germany border with tractors to protest the WEF climate change policies of their government.”

In another tweet, Mr Bexte added: "Dutch farmers are fighting because this isn't just their livelihood, it is their birthright spanning back centuries.

"It's not just a job for them. It's land they inherited from their great-great-great-great grandfathers. Would you give up just because the government told you to?"

Sjaak van der Tak, chairman of LTO Nederland, a Dutch farming union, said farmers and horticulturists "feel powerless and distraught" with the government.

"The economic, social and cultural impact of this devastating nitrogen policy is unknown, so how can you talk about future prospects?"

"The concern for clearing the countryside remains life-size."

Protests had spread to other European nations on Friday (8 July), including Germany, Poland and Italy, due to concerns over rising inflation in the industry and as an act of solidarity with their Dutch counterparts.

Responding to the growing movement, Welsh upland farmer and well-known media personality Gareth Wyn Jones said there were "major problems with government policies".

"We should be all coming together, as farmers, as family farms, as industry leaders, to work together to put pressure on government to stop forcing these stupid implications and blaming farmers for every problem there is."