Farmers’ protests spread to the Netherlands, border roads closed

Belgian farmers on the E19 near the border with the Netherlands. Photo: Dirk Hol, ANP

The farmers’ protests which started in France and have since spread to other parts of Europe are now beginning to start up in the Netherlands, with blockades on the main roads to Belgium and gatherings in several towns and cities.

The infrastructure ministry’s roads department warned on Friday morning that hundreds of farmers had closed off border crossings and that people should delay their journeys if possible.

Since then there have been gatherings at several locations across the country. In Assen, for example, a group of farmers handed over a letter to the provincial authorities calling for changes to strict environmental rules imposed by the Dutch government and the EU.

Without action, the farmers said, they would be back. “We will bring a present and give back all the shit and other crap we’ve had thrown at us over the past few years,” local farmers leader Jisse Otter told local broadcaster RTV Drenthe.

Around 50 farmers gathered outside the Noord-Brabant provincial offices in Den Bosch calling for action and, according to news agency ANP, a protest will also take place in Utrecht on Friday evening. According to news website, there were protests in Amsterdam, Arnhem and Groningen on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the A4, A16 and A67 border roads remain closed and drivers are recommended to use the A2 or another alternative route.

Belgian farmers leader Raf van Hasselt, said the blockade would remain until midnight, but they would give the government the weekend to decide what to do about their demands. The Dutch arm of the Farmers Defence Force has also called on Dutch farmers to join the blockade of the A67.

According to the Telegraaf, the FDF is also planning to organise a major demonstration in the Netherlands next week, and will decide where on Tuesday.

The Dutch farmers are angry in particular about rules that are stopping them from spreading manure on their fields until February 14, broadcaster NOS reported. Dutch farmers have been dumping manure and taking to the roads in their tractors as a form of protest since 2019.

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