Dutch farmers protest against government emissions targets

More than 10,000 Dutch farmers travelled into The Hague to protest against government plans to cut nitrogen emissions, which they say will lead to the closure of many farms and hit food production.

The Netherlands coalition government wants to buy up and forcibly shut down 3,000 farms it deems “peak polluters”.

This is part of a radical plan to slash nitrogen emissions by 50-95% by 2030, and comply with EU greenhouse gas emissions targets.

See also: Flemish farmers in mass demo against nitrogen emission cuts

But the plans have sparked outrage among Dutch farmers and the global farming community, with the farmer protests attracting the support of high-profile politicians and many people in the Netherlands.

On Saturday 11 March, many thousands of farmers converged on Zuiderpark in The Hague.

The farmers held banners carrying a simple message for government: “No farmers, no food” and “There is no nitrogen ‘problem’” during the demo, which was organised by the Farmers Defence Force Group.

Many protestors symbolically held their Netherlands flags upside down.

The Dutch military was deployed to enforce a ban on tractors entering The Hague. The police stopped most tractors travelling to the protest and Mayor Jan van Zanen said only two tractors would be allowed in the city due to safety concerns.

Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion staged a major protest simultaneously in the city against government subsidies for fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, and fuel tax exemptions for the aviation and shipping industries. 

The twin protests were staged ahead of crucial regional and water board elections to be held on 15 March.

This will determine the make-up of the Dutch Senate, which has a crucial role in deciding regional policies including limits on nitrogen emissions.