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Netherlands erupts in protests: Government wants to expropriate 3,000 farms and close them to reduce emissions

In a desperate attempt to meet European Union climate targets, the Rutte government launched a law to expropriate the most polluting land from the countryside.

In an unprecedented political move in the Netherlands, Mark Rutte’s government launched an “emergency” plan to expropriate and close more than 3,000 farms in a dangerous attempt to meet strict greenhouse gas emissions targets recently imposed by the European Union.

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The targets dictate that the Netherlands must halve nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions by 2030.

(Nitrogen 2000: The Dutch Farmers’ Struggle | Trailer)

Otherwise, it will lose access to the supranational organization’s financial funds and could be suspended from the Union.

To comply with this, the Dutch government will use part of a dedicated €22 (US$22) billion program for the forced purchase of agricultural fields from more than 3,000 family businesses.

In a stern ultimatum to farmers, Nitrogen Control Minister Christianne van der Wal warned that “there is no better offer” and that if they do not accept the sale, they will be forcibly removed from their properties.

Many of these hectares are worked by family groups that have been operating them for countless generations.

The vast majority of these people live on the same farms where they work, so this measure will also imply the displacement of thousands of people.

“The last time this property was taken from us was by the Nazis in 1940. The only time in the last 300 years that my family did not work this land was during World War II,” said one woman interviewed by local media this week.


As was evident, the announcement of this measure provoked an outbreak of protests in rural areas of the Netherlands. Farmers with their tractors traveled on Wednesday night to major urban centers in the country’s interior to protest against the national government.

Farmers have built road barricades with burning straw, spread manure on the streets, and set off fireworks in protest against the authorities in recent months in anticipation of the government’s decision that was finally announced this week.

In some areas, up to 40,000 protesters came to the cities on Thursday, where there were heavy clashes with police, who used bulldozers to tear down tractors and arrest thousands of peaceful demonstrators.

This Friday, the Netherlands dawned with a large part of its most essential routes blocked by tractors, in addition to concentrations of demonstrators in front of the Dutch Parliament in The Hague.

One of the groups behind the protests, known as the Farmers’ Defense Forces (FDF), vowed to continue the protest campaign until the government reverses the measures.

The farmers also vowed to run united as a political formation in the next elections to end the persecution of the countryside.

It should be clarified that this sector has wealthy business people who could make this party a vital political force in the country.

Meanwhile, the central agricultural Union, LTO Nederland, has pressured the government to reverse the policy with strikes in various sectors, threatening the food-exporting country with food shortages.


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