Organisations like the LTO and the Dutch dairy-producers association met to discuss the ongoing ‘tractor protests’ on Tuesday evening
Translated by Thomas Ansell
In recent days, Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe have brought in ‘demonstration bans’ to stop angry farmers from using their heavy machinery in protests. According to the head of the Dutch dairy-producers association (Nederlandse melkveehouders vakbond), Harm Wiegersma, it became clear during the meeting that farmers should ‘take their foot off the gas’ when thinking about protests. As reported by the Omrop Fryslân.
Farmers are generally displeased with the Dutch government’s plans to reduce nitrogen emissions in their industry; with the most recent disagreement over Minister for Agriculture Carola Schouten’s plans to reduce the amount of modified protein in cattle feed. According to the protesting farmers, that would have a negative effect on the animals they keep captive and exploit for food. The farmers are also unhappy with supermarket chains, who, they say, pay too little for agricultural products.
The high level of emotion is reflected in Wiegersma’s comments. “We aren’t yet defeated. We sat with eachother yesterday to see what we can still do. I can’t say much about that, but it is better that we reduce the severity of our protests a bit, although I understand the frustrations of other farmers. We feel completely stitched up, if I can say that. Since the end of May we’ve been busy planning and seeing how we can carry out those plans. We have been to court seven times, and still haven’t had a single ruling go our way”, he said.
Wiegersma even admitted that lots of farmers will no longer listen to organisations telling them not to protest: “those farmers can no longer be controlled, and we can’t keep a handle on them. Once you’ve delivered plan after plan, which are all well thought out, I think… what kind of country do we live in?”
Aside from the dramatic rhetoric and noisy protesting, the Dutch agricultural sector is one of the most successful in the world. In 2014 the agricultural sector employed 660,000 people– however only 50,000 of those are farmers. Aside from the Dutch predilection for meat and dairy, the country is also an enormous vegetable producer, with over 10,000 hectares of greenhouses in 2010.