Farmers in Holland have been staging a series of increasingly obstreperous protests against environmental rules that they say will force some of them out of business.
The protests are targeting new Dutch government policies that seek to reduce nationwide emissions of nitrogen, ammonia and other pollutants by 50% by 2030. To that end, farmers will face strictures ranging from how much nitrogen can be in their fertilizer, to how much protein can be in their animals’ feed (less protein means less ammonia in the animals’ bodily wastes). These measures would mean drastic change for Holland’s farmers; as the government said in June when announcing the emissions targets, “The honest message...is that not all farmers can continue their business.”
Dutch farmers have reacted with protests since the announcement. They have used tractors to block roads and bridges and surround supermarkets. A small group of farmers clashed with police outside the home of the cabinet minister responsible for the emissions policy, and dumped manure on a nearby street. Fishermen, acting in solidarity with the farmers, have blockaded ports. On June 28, hundreds of farmers gathered in The Hague, the country’s seat of government, accompanied by a pair of cows.
The farmers say agriculture is being unfairly singled out, and that other polluting industries won’t have to go through such drastic changes. “It’s a deliberate decision by our government to probably force farmers to stop farming and damaging the Netherlands’ farmers ability to produce food and make a living,” a Dutch farmer wrote in an opinion piece carried by Farm News Media.
Proponents of the measure counter that it is necessary to keep pollution under control, especially from farms that have large ratios of livestock to land.