Farmers pause motorway campaign ahead of meeting with minister

NSC MP Harm Holman has called for action on nitrogen. Photo: Peter Hilz ANP

Radical farmers called off their ongoing campaign against the government’s nitrogen measures and the EU’s Green Deal on Tuesday following the collapse of talks on forming a new government.

The campaigners have pledged not to hold any more motorway protests until at least February 15, after justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz pledged to get tough following a string of highway blockades and fires. Two people, thought to be responsible for dumping asbestos on Monday night, have since been arrested.

Farmers representatives and farm minister Piet Adema are due to meet on Wednesday morning to discuss the latest situation and the radical groups said “we will respect these talks and give the parties involved in forming a new government more time”.

The move came as MPs voted in favour of a string of motions during Tuesday’s debate on the farm ministry budget, and called on the minister to work towards phasing out factory farming and to cut nitrogen emissions.

Two motions drawn up by former farmer Harm Holman, now an MP for the centre right party NSC, both won majority support. One called for the development of an integrated vision for the countryside, farming and nature.

The second called on the government to “substantially” reduce nitrogen emissions through reducing livestock numbers, innovation and new government measures.

The VVD, which was in coalition talks with the NSC at the time, backed Holman’s proposals, as did the SP, CU, Denk, PvdD and Volt.

MPs, including the far right PVV, also voted in favour of another motion put together by D66 MP Tjeerd de Groot which would put an end to continued development of mega farms, “which have nothing to do with a family firm”.

Motions which get a majority vote do not have to be carried out by the relevant minister and are widely seen as a way of generating attention for key issues.

Last week the debate on the farm ministry budget led to increased tensions between the four parties then in talks on forming a new coalition, with the pro-countryside BBB and NSC at odds over the key points.

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