Wednesday 07 December 2022

Thousands of farmers set to demonstrate against compulsory closures

A tractor at a protest in The Hague. Photo: Molly Quell

Farmers organisations have decided to hold their protest against the government’s plans to crack down on nitrogen-based pollution near Barneveld, which is at the centre of the Netherlands’ intensive poultry farming industry.

Ministers have already said that farms in some areas will have to close to slash nitrogen emissions and the Barneveld region is set to be particularly hard hit.

Earlier plans to hold a protest in The Hague have now been abandoned. Instead, farmers will head for Stroe in the Gelderse Vallei area, local broadcaster Omroep Gelderland reported.

Some 20,000 to 30,000 farmers are expected to converge on the location, many by tractor. The demonstration will take place on June 22 and, if the expected numbers match the reality, it will be the biggest protest by farmers ever seen in the Netherlands.

Protest organiser and dairy farmer Jeroen van Maanen told the broadcaster that the decision to avoid The Hague had been taken deliberately. ‘We are turning our backs on The Hague,’ he said.

‘We have always said we want to be part of constructive talks, but if you see the plan two years later, and nothing has been done with our contribution, then we have just been wasting time.’

Pollution

Farming – both arable and livestock – is responsible for some 41% of the nitrogen-based pollution in habitats which are protected by EU law as Natura 2000 locations.

What’s all the fuss about nitrogen in the Netherlands?

The aim of the plan is to cut total nitrogen emissions by 50% by 2030.

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