Dutch farmers protest against green reforms

Farmers claim the proposed changes will mean some losing their jobs

<p>Mayor Kees van Rooij of Meierijstad meets with farmers during a demonstration against the Dutch government’s far-reaching plans to cut nitrogen emissions in Veghel</p>

Mayor Kees van Rooij of Meierijstad meets with farmers during a demonstration against the Dutch government’s far-reaching plans to cut nitrogen emissions in Veghel

Armed with colourful tractors and trucks, Dutch farmers on Monday continued their battle against the government’s proposal to slash emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50 percent.

Farmers across the Netherlands argue that the move targets them unfairly and shows little regard for their future and the future of the country’s lucrative agricultural sector. The plan, they say, will result in the reduction of livestock and the buying up of some farms whose livestock produce large amounts of ammonia.

Provincial governments have been given a year to formulate plans to achieve the goal, which must then be implemented by 2030.

One video posted on social media reportedly showed farmers using manure to barricade the Dutch-German border, while others deposited the substance in front of government buildings. Videos shared online last week also showed angry farmers targeting police vehicles with wooden sledgehammers.

Ports were also reportedly being blockaded by fishermen, while staff at Schiphol airport urged travellers to use public transport to get to its terminals amid fears that the blockade would target airports.

Traffic authorities warned motorists to prepare for delays and possible slow-moving tractors on the nation’s highways, but said that there were few problems early on Monday for commuters, possibly because many people opted to work from home rather than get stuck in traffic.

A sign reads ‘Our Farmers, Our Future’ as some 25 tractors form a blockade outside a distribution centre for supermarket chain Albert Heijn in the town of Zaandam, just north of Amsterdam

As tractors gathered outside the parliament building last month, prime minister Mark Rutte said farmers had the right to protest but not to break the law.

“Freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate are a vital part of our democratic society, and I will always defend them,” Mr Rutte said.

“But ... it is not acceptable to create dangerous situations, it is not acceptable to intimidate officials – we will never accept that.”

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