More than a dozen tractors brought the Grote Markt square to a standstill yesterday evening, the Groninger Internet Courant reports. About thirty farmers gathered to voice their anger over the government’s nitrogen pollution plan which mandates reductions of up to 70% in some provinces and as high as 95% in others in a bid to protect nature. The protest coincided with farm minister Henk Staghouwer’s visit to the city’s Forum where he was scheduled to give a talk about the agriculture of the future.
The farmers’ lobby organisations and pro-farmer parties are furious over the plan, which was unveiled last Friday, calling the measure “unrealistic” and an attack on the country’s agricultural sector. The groups also oppose forced buyout of farms, as well as housing construction and solar panels on farmland. One in three Dutch farms may need to close as a consequence of the government’s policy to cut nitrogen emissions by 2030.
The farmers drove tractors, cars and vans via the Oosterstraat onto the Grote Markt at around 10pm, honking their horns and waving flags. They dispersed at around half past ten.
The Netherlands is the second biggest agricultural exporter in the world, with only the United States exporting more. In 2021, the export of agricultural produce is estimated to have reached 104.7 billion euros, setting a new record.