Farm friendly group wins Dutch Senate seats, concerns continue
A new farmer friendly group, the Farmer-Citizen Movement (Boer Burger Beweging or BBB) surprised the world by winning Senate seats in the Netherlands.
After a years-long battle that rages on, farmers are facing bankruptcy due to strict nitrogen restrictions imposed by the current regime.
Farmers have protested and have taken their opinions to the ballot box, with the BBB, which has only been in existence for about four years, taking around 15 of 75 seats, reported CNN.
Nynke Koopmans is a farmer in the Netherlands, and she realized in October of 2019 what was going on. “The nitrogen crisis is made up, they say that the nitrogen blows always from a farm and is harming the new Nature Reserves. You can’t measure nitrogen but they have sorted off the farms they want to get rid of. They are targeting the farms closest to the Nature Reserves.”
Koopmans said the Nature Reserves are more like what people in the US would consider large parks. People go there to walk and enjoy the outdoors. But mysteriously after being eradicated for more than a hundred years, wolves have returned to the Netherlands. They are protected and farmers have reported livestock losses. Farmers are told they can try to fence out the wolves but Koopmans said she feels they are more of a hybrid wolf. With no natural predators the wolf population is growing, and new Nature Reserves are being created for them.
Koopmans isn’t sure the BBB is the answer to the farmers’ fears. She feels that the new group (BBB) is all about compromise and has openly admitted that the country has a nitrogen problem. “Because of the election, farms have stopped flying their flags upside down and they aren’t protesting. But nothing has changed yet. The new leaders are talking about the nitrogen problem. The election was a clear signal, people voted for them because they proposed compromise. Other parties said that there is no nitrogen problem but they didn’t get the votes. It is now up to the BBB to do what they promised.”
Koopmans said that from what she has learned the ultimate goal is to eliminate all farming from the country with the agriculture needs being produced in Ukraine and Romania. “Most of the people still believe the government and they think that farmers kill the environment. They don’t understand that farmers grow the food. We don’t grow enough to feed everyone, we still import a lot. There have been large protests, almost all farmers, very few citizens have come out to support us. Farmers have been flying their flags upside down to show that the country is in need.”
She said that already it is very difficult to farm there due to the regulations and permits required. “Already the banks won’t give money to farmers so they will force them out that way too.”
Banks are now not giving any loans anymore to the farmers that are located by N2000 area’s (regions targeted for farm closures) or that have an uncompleted licenses due to the government fault,” said Dutch farmer Yvonne Meijer. “So that will be the beginning of the end. Electric energy and fuels are high so if we want to make green investments, like solar panels on our barn roof , the bank does not want to help.”
The Dutch government is being required to comply with the European Union’s (EU) nature preservation rules. The claim is that the Netherlands are a major nitrogen polluter, and that nearly half of the nitrogen is emitted by agriculture. The plan is to slash emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and farmers fear that it will cost them their livelihoods. The original plan was developed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and adopted by the EU with the goal to reduce global carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and to be at net-zero emissions by 2050. According to the WEF website, insects are an overlooked source of protein and a way to battle climate change.
The Dutch government nitrogen proposal will close 11,200 farms and force another 17,600 farmers to significantly reduce one third of their livestock. The plan is to purchase and close the farms, much like they did in the past when they purchased commercial fishermen’s’ boats and basically eliminated the industry.
Dutch farmers have been staging massive protests, dumping manure on highways, burning hay bales and descending on their capital in tractors. But still the plan is to go into effect this spring with the buyouts and uses of force this fall on those who fail to comply.
The Netherlands is a small fertile European country. Behind the United States it is the second-largest exporter of agriculture. The country is the largest exporter of meat in Europe with their massive port of Rotterdam, farmers produce 4 million cattle, 13 million pigs, 104 million chickens annually. It also provides vegetables to much of Western Europe, with nearly 24,000 acres of crops growing in greenhouses. The flat, fertile land with a moderate climate is perfect for raising animals and crops and is home to nearly 19 million people in the most densely populated country in Europe. A fourth of the country lies below sea level with 2,500 square miles of the country consisting of reclaimed land. The Dutch have worked for hundreds of years building dikes and draining water off their land.