Thousands of farmers organized tractor convoys from across the Netherlands to the Hague Oct. 1, protesting a government report that blames them and their livestock for fouling the air. “No farmers, no food,” read their placards.
Farmers are fed up with being called “environmental criminals,” sheep farmer and protest organizer Bart Kemp told demonstrators outside parliament.
Driven by the same reactionary hysteria about the earth’s imminent doom advanced by many at the recent United Nations climate change summit, the Dutch government says “drastic measures” are needed immediately. One party in the ruling coalition government has called for the elimination of half the livestock in the country — 6 million pigs and 50 million chickens.
The farmers demanded the government keep their hands off the animals. They called for formation of an organization independent of the government to be responsible for measuring nitrogen and carbon emissions on farms. Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten came to the protest, promising her department wouldn’t impose restrictions on farmers’ livestock.
Farmers were hit hard in May when the Dutch top court, the Council of State, halted farm and construction permits, saying they violate EU environmental protections. This shut down thousands of projects, including new farms, roads, housing blocks and airport expansion. Another recent government report calls on local authorities to buy up area farms and drive farmers off the land.
At the protest, cattle farmer Peter Boogards told the Associated Press that it’s a lie that farmers don’t care about the environment. “Nobody listens to us,” he said. “We don’t like that.”