Dutch farmers have rallied a country-wide protest in response to new cabinet nitrogen emissions demands. The protests, which were announced in a video by Farmers Defense Force (FDF) chairperson Mark van den Oever, kicked off on the 27th of June at mid-day with highway blockades across the country.
One of the massive protest’s epicenters is near the town of Hoogeveen in Drenthe, where over sixty tractors assembled at roughly 13:00 on the A28 highway. From there, as of 14:30 in the afternoon, the line of tractors has begun moving north, reaching the village of Spier, some eleven kilometers from Hoogeveen, reports De Telegraaf in a live blog.
In the province of Groningen, protesters have been spotted as of 15:30 on the A7 highway near the town of Boerakker.
“Everything that can roll, will roll,” said den Oever in his YouTube video, which has now over forty-thousand views. The protests look to be living up to his claims, with hundreds of tractors across the country moving across three separate highways.
In addition to dumping hay-bails on the roads, protestors have been seen hanging stuffed dolls representing cows and pigs from a viaduct near Borne on the A1, reports De Telegraaf.
The protests are the latest in an ongoing battle over nitrogen emission reductions between the state and farmers. The latest escalation in the conflict was a cabinet-announced plan to reduce emissions throughout the country by up to 95 percent: a demand that many farmers feel is unfeasible without threatening their livelihoods.
On Twitter, public opinions on the matter are also divided, with pro-farmer supporters on one side and users concerned about the safety of the protests, as well as potentially dangerous implications for emergency vehicles, on the other.
“This will lead to *life-threatening* situations! Not to mention blocking #hulpdiensten (emergency services),” writes Twitter user Saskia Steinhorst. While the FDF has noted that the protest will make room for emergency vehicles on shoulder lanes, the sheer number of tractors has some users, such as Saskia, worried.
FDF representatives, such as den Oever, claim that the protests and demonstrations will continue until some sort of agreement can be reached with the government. On the 16th of June, farmers gathered in protest on the Grote Markt, also in reaction to the cabinet’s nitrogen plan.
As of the writing of this article, protestors have not yet reached major cities in the North.