Ministers and MPs have condemned comments by radical farmers leader Mark van den Oever, in which he said it ‘could happen’ that many more farmers turned up at the home of nature minister Christianne van der Wal, and describing her children as ‘pussies’ for being scared.
The government has admitted that some farms will have to shut down in areas which are particularly vulnerable to the impact of nitrogen-based pollution, much to the fury of radical farmers, known as the Farmers Defence Force.
Earlier this month, a group of angry farmers turned up at the minister’s home refused to leave until she told them her children were ‘shaking’ inside. Farm minister Henk Staghouwer was also forced to cancel a visit to a farm in Renswoude near Utrecht after threats were made against the farmer who was to host him.
FDF leader Van den Oever, a pig farmer who was in hospital at the time of the doorstep protests, said in an interview in Saturday’s Volkskrant, that he did not consider farmers had gone too far. ‘Van der Waal had farmers outside for 30 minutes, but that is nothing compared to what she is doing to farming families,’ he said.
He also he was justified in comparing the position of farmers to the persecution of the Jews during World War II and threatened blockades of roads and food supplies.
Justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz described Van den Oever’s comments as ‘the intimidation of a politician in public’ and said they went beyond what is acceptable.
‘The safety of others should never be at risk just because you don’t agree with something,’ she said on Twitter.
D66 parliamentary party leader Jan Paternotte said he wanted to know if demonstrations at politicians’ homes could be banned. ‘Our country is run according to the rule of law, not the rule of the tractor,’ he said at the party’s congress in Den Bosch.
And MP Caroline van der Plas, who founded the pro farming party BoerBurgerBeweging, said she did not support action at people’s homes or which denied people access to food.
Meanwhile, main farming lobby group LTO called on farmers to protest ‘appropriately’, and said that using tractors is justified but not at politician’s homes.
Farmers are planning a mass protest on June 22 near Barneveld, in the heart of the poultry farming area. Some 20,000 to 30,000 farmers are expected to converge on the location, many by tractor. If the expected numbers match the reality, it will be the biggest protest by farmers ever seen in the Netherlands.
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