Protests sweeping the Netherlands have escalated in the space of a little over a week, as Dutch farmers fight back against destructive policies ostensibly put in place to fight climate change. The effects of these new policies will greatly reduce Dutch agricultural output. This is no small problem, as the Netherlands ranks as Planet Earth’s second-largest food exporter, and the largest in the European Union (EU). This comes at a time when global famine pressures have already been building, and civil unrest in the Netherlands and war in Ukraine will only exacerbate those pressures.
The government had previously proposed forcibly reducing the amount of cattle in the Netherlands by 30% in order to save protected wildlife areas, but that proved too controversial. Now, however, they’ve voted to take equally drastic steps in reducing emissions by the agricultural industry.
Very angry Dutch farmers block border between Holland and Germany. Harsh protests in many Dutch cities after politicians’ decision to closes dozens of farms and cattle ranches to reduce nitrogen by 30% – 70% to comply with EU regulations on nitrogen pollution. pic.twitter.com/uKYXj0gvD8
— RadioGenova (@RadioGenova) June 30, 2022
In a scene reminiscent of the Canadian trucker convoy and its American counterpart earlier this year, Dutch farmers blocked the border between Holland and Germany with their large industrial farm equipment. Some also used their equipment to make a bolder statement, spraying manure near government buildings.
🇳🇱 Ondertussen bij het gemeentehuis in Lochem: boeren verspreiden mest voor de deur van het gemeentehuis! pic.twitter.com/ECovC8TID3
— Kees71 (@Kees71234) June 27, 2022
This all came to a head in mere days, after the Dutch government voted to take proactive steps in the agriculture industry in response to a court decision against Shell Oil in the wake of the Paris Climate Accord. These moves mean Dutch farmers must reduce their nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions. Those who can’t meet these goals will simply go out of business. Indeed, the government explicitly said as much when they announced the new rules:
The ruling coalition wants to cut emissions of pollutants, predominantly nitrogen oxide and ammonia, by 50% nationwide by 2030. Ministers call the proposal an “unavoidable transition” that aims to improve air, land and water quality.
They warn that farmers will have to adapt or face the prospect of shuttering their businesses.
“The honest message … is that not all farmers can continue their business,” and those who do will likely have to farm differently, the government said in a statement this month as it unveiled emission reduction targets.
War correspondent Michael Yon cut short a trip to Hungary, switching from covering the invasion of Ukraine to reporting on the Dutch farmer strike. He has been on the ground since the early days of the strike and has watched as massive convoys of tractors have encircled government centers, large cities, and food distribution facilities in protest. He reported on the police attempt to shoot a 16-year-old farmer driving one of the tractors in the protest, whom they later arrested:
Yesterday, I went to the police station where they held the 16 year-old farm boy. The farm boy police shot at while he was driving the tractor. I saw a long video last night. Totally wrongful shooting. Police did miss the boy but hit the doorframe of his tractor. The boy represented no threat.
And so yesterday farmers besieged the police station demanding release. A journalist there told me police told the farmers if they disperse they would release the prisoner. The farmers dispersed and hours later police released the boy they almost shot.
We found numerous dispersed groups of farmers. Apparently there were groups lighting bonfires around Netherlands. We found two bonfires.
Yon says he’s spoken with dozens of the protesters, and they have begged for foreign coverage of their actions. They tell him the Dutch farmer protest has been completely mischaracterized as a violent action in the Dutch press. According to Yon, the Dutch farmers have committed themselves to peaceful protest and civil disobedience like blocking highways, and the police have escalated their attempts to disperse the protests. Yon reports the farmers have started setting hay bale fires and manure fires all over the Netherlands in protest of the loss of their livelihoods.
Related: The Approaching Food Crisis Will Be a Catastrophe For Humanity
We’ve already seen mass social unrest over the past year caused by skyrocketing food prices in places like Yemen, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and other global hotspots. The UN has predicted a global food crisis and warned about the potential for famines. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has further exacerbated food instabilities, as both countries rank among the world’s largest exporters of wheat and fertilizer. Now, the strict enforcement of emissions policies, based on a globalist environmentalist movement tenuously connected to the Paris Climate Accords, threatens to take down another of the world’s largest food exporters, and could spill over into other nations.
The global implications of this protest could not be more clear. In a time of global instability in food imports and exports, a court ruling has threatened to take one of the most productive farming areas of Europe off line, while robbing Dutch farmers of the land and businesses they’ve inherited over several generations.
So how did we get to the point where Dutch farmers have created such a massive protest in such a short time, coming to a head on America’s Indepence Day, July 4? As mentioned earlier, the government of the Netherlands voted to drastically limit emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia from farms, with a deadline of 2030. These votes occurred after the Dutch supreme court told the government they had to reduce emissions, based on a 2019 case against Royal Dutch Shell brought by environmentalists:
Netherland lawmakers recently voted on proposals to slash emissions of damaging pollutants. The two most notable emission cuts being made by these decisions are nitrogen oxide and ammonia, which farming produces. For many years, ministers have been working to de-escalate this issue.
The country’s highest court forewarned the government to take measures from a ruling in a 2019 case. The new environmental rules say that farmers need to drastically reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions that their livestock produce.
ABC News reported that these decisions were prompted when the government was not able to pass certain construction and infrastructure projects due to the breach it would have on environmental rules regarding emissions.
That last bit about other industries not feeling the same effects has worsened tensions with the Dutch farmers. They have repeatedly cited the issue of unfair targeting as one of the main reasons for their protest.
Because of the sweeping nature of the court ruling against Shell, all of Dutch society must now endure drastic changes to its lifestyle to meet these emissions cuts. The Washington Examiner reported on July 7 that negotiations to end the protests have stalled:
Protesting farmers have rejected the Dutch government’s terms for negotiation talks to end demonstrations against plans to cut pollutant emissions that will crack down on their lucrative industry.
Two of the leading organizations representing the farmers, the Netherlands Agricultural and Horticultural Association and the Netherlands Agricultural Youth Contact, sent out press releases pointing to a variety of issues explaining why they refused to meet with the government-appointed mediator.
In its letter to the Dutch government, the association explained its members are open and willing to enter negotiations, but not on the grounds the government has laid out. It rejected the offer on the grounds that the government isn’t showing willingness to discuss a change in goals or principles, as seen in a parliamentary discussion regarding the affair, and stressed that both parties will have to be willing to move if negotiations are to take place.
As always, these protests are about a lot more than just land rights, reductions in emissions, or crackdowns by police. The global implications, as well as the legal precedent for more heavy handed regulation by other governments, threaten the global supply of food in ways we couldn’t previously have imagined.