Friday 21 February 2020

Cabinet, farm groups to meet again to discuss buy-out proposals

An earlier protest on the Malieveld in The Hague. Photo: Molly Quell

Ministers and farming organisations are due to meet again on Friday about measures to combat nitrogen compound pollution after breaking off the talks on Wednesday following a threatening note from militant farming group Farmers Defence Force.

The FDF has apologised for the Facebook message, which accused the cabinet of negotiating behind farmers’ backs with organisations which wanted to ‘betray farmers like Judas’.

But farm minister Carola Schouten has also reportedly demanded a personal apology and has made this the first item on Friday’s agenda.

The talks will focus on the cabinet’s plans to buy out livestock farmers in environmentally sensitive areas, and other issues to reduce the pollution caused by livestock farming in particular.

The DFD is part of an alliance of farming groups which are taking part in the talks.

According to the AD, the more traditional farming organisations are becoming fed up with the militant tactics of the DFD, which was behind last year’s controversial tractor protests that caused chaos on the roads.

The organisation has no formal structure and is, according to the Volkskrant, basically a Facebook group with 53,000 supporters – far outstripping the number of farmers in the Netherlands.

One farmer told the paper that the DFD is ‘past its sell-by date’ and has an ‘idiot’ as a leader.

Leader Mark van den Oever, who posted the Judas message, also earlier compared the position of farmers in the Netherlands with victims of the Holocaust.

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