The Dutch farmers’ protest against the government’s plans to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions is receiving remarkable local and continental attention, especially with the escalation of the protest to include road closures, gatherings in front of politicians’ homes, and dumping manure on the roads.
Last Saturday, the political capital, The Hague, witnessed protests in which more than ten thousand farmers took part, who came out to denounce the environmental plans of the government, which the protesters see as a direct threat to their interests, as it will lead to the closure of many of their farms, which are the source of their livelihood.
Protesters in The Hague, in a symbolic sign of denouncing the government and its environmental regulations, raised their country’s flag upside down during the demonstration that came ahead of the start of the local elections scheduled for the fifteenth of this month, which also indirectly elect the upper house of Parliament.
The Dutch government announced, early last summer, its endeavor to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions in the country by 70% in dozens of agricultural areas, given that the agricultural sector produces large quantities of nitrogen gas emissions, which is a greenhouse gas emitted in particular from fertilizers and organic fertilizers.
Cows, through their digestive systems, are also a major source of methane emissions, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Farmers believe that the government’s new environmental regulations on reducing nitrogen emissions are exaggerated and that current plans to solve this problem are unfair and ineffective.
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of farmers’ protests, the Citizen Farmers Movement, which was founded as a political party by agricultural journalist Caroline van der Plas in 2019 and now sits in Parliament, is growing in popularity.
The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has committed to halving nitrogen emissions by 2030, knowing that the levels of nitrogen oxide in the air and water in the Netherlands are currently above the limits allowed by European Union regulations, and many of those emissions come from the droppings of more than 4 million cattle and 12 million Pig and 100 million chickens, owned by the small country with a population of about 17.5 million.
To reduce nitrogen emissions, the government plans to reduce livestock numbers by a third, which means some farmers will face forced sales of their livestock.
It’s noteworthy that the Netherlands, despite its relatively small size (44 thousand square kilometers), is the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the world after the United States.
The upcoming local elections, which will also result in a new Senate, may have an impact on the government’s environmental plan, especially since the latest poll shows that the Citizens Farmers Party will get about 12% of the vote.
The Dutch government plans to reduce the number of livestock in the Netherlands and close some farms led to an increase in the popularity of the aforementioned party, especially in rural areas, in the north and east of the country, and there are opinion polls indicating that this party may become the largest political party in the country.
If he wins enough seats in the Senate, he can form an alliance with far-right parties to block the implementation of environmental regulations on nitrogen emissions.