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Everything you need to know about the government’s nitrogen policy and the protests of Dutch farmers

On June 22, farmers from all over the Netherlands gather together in Story to once again protest against the nitrogen policy of the Dutch government, or stikstofbeleid. But what exactly are the farmers protesting, and what will the protest on Wednesday mean to you? Here’s everything you need to know about the Dutch farmers’ protests.

How does agriculture generate nitrogen emissions?

Virtually everyone living in the Netherlands is contributing to the so-called nitrogen crisis in the country, known in Dutch as stikstofcrisis. If you have a gas stove in your house, then it also contributes to the release of nitrogen into the country’s atmosphere.

Of course, this is only on a very small scale. Nitrogen oxides are also emitted by cars and airplanes, as well as in a number of plants and industries – including agriculture. In agriculture, ammonia production is a key issue.

But why does agriculture emit so much nitrogen? It all comes down to the animal. Ammonia is formed when animal excretions come in contact with oxygen, releasing nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. Figures show that Dutch farms – particularly dairy farms – are responsible for a significant amount of total nitrogen emissions in the country.

What is the nitrogen policy of the Dutch government?

Since the 1990s, the Dutch government has been working to implement a policy to limit the carbon footprint and nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. Many of these policies have been successful, significantly reducing nitrogen emissions in a number of sectors and industries. However, one industry in particular has struggled for many years with the government’s approach.

Nitrogen emissions in the Dutch agricultural sector are not declining at the rate expected by the government and environmental groups, which means that back in 2019 the Cabinet of Ministers moved to impose stricter rules for farmers. These measures include providing livestock with low-protein feed, as well as providing funding to purchase livestock from farmers wishing to stop farming.

For the past three years, farmers from all over the Netherlands have held and participated in various protests to fight against the government’s approach. But earlier this month, Christian van der Val, the Minister of Nature and Nitrogen, brought the situation to a head when she unveiled a controversial 10-step plan outlining one key goal: three regions – the Geldersee Valley, North Brabant and Limburg – to cut emissions. nitrogen by more than 50 percent by 2030.

Why are Dutch farmers protesting?

Van der Vala’s goal has huge implications for farmers working in these areas as they will have to significantly reduce livestock. The proposal provides for five options for reducing emissions:

  • Invest in sustainable technologies to ensure cleaner stables
  • Go to circular agriculture (ie use only the space and resources that are absolutely necessary)
  • Adjust the business model of the farm (for example, limit livestock, change crops, use land to create another business)
  • Move home
  • Quit the farm

Perhaps unsurprisingly, thousands of farmers have expressed anger over these proposed solutions, explaining that Van der Val’s proposals have caused them a sense of uncertainty about their future and the future of their families. They also argue that over the years the Dutch government has invested heavily in agriculture, encouraging farmers to expand their businesses, and that the new plan is completely contrary to previous policies.

Like, the government’s plan will lead to large-scale destruction of rural society in the Netherlands and the disappearance of a number of family businesses. They also argue that the policy of buying livestock and farms will cost Dutch citizens more taxes than investing in innovation, and that a reduction in the Dutch agricultural sector would mean the country would have to import more food from abroad, thus increasing the overall figure for the country. . carbon footprint.

What do farmers want?

The main point that farmers make is that the current approach to reducing nitrogen emissions is unfeasible or unfair. Instead, they would like the government to look for other ways to address the nitrogen crisis.

When and where do farmers in the Netherlands protest?

20,000 people are expected to travel from The Hague, Groningen, North Brabant and Limburg to protest in Stro, a small village in Gelderland province between Amersfoort and Apeldoorn on Wednesday (June 22nd).

Some demonstrators met in The Hague at 7am on Wednesday morning before traveling together to Stroj. Some farmers from remote locations set off on Wednesday morning at 5am, and many are expected to arrive for the protest only at noon.

Several politicians and speakers will also be present on Wednesday, including Mark van der Over of the Farmers’ Defense Force and BBB leader Caroline van der Plas.

What does bare protest means for me?

The protest on Wednesday is expected to cause disruptions in various Dutch cities and on the roads. Many will be driving tractors, which means that on Wednesday there will be hundreds of tractors on Dutch roads and highways throughout the day. Traffic jams have already been recorded on a number of roads near The Hague, Eindhoven and Dan Bosch, and the Royal Dutch Tourist Club (ANWB) and the Rijkswaterstaat have urged members of the public to postpone any travel to or in the middle of the country if possible.

«Crossroads Hoevelaken…[and] the whole area around it – A1 and A28 in Amersfoort, A30 and A12 – will be occupied. Farmers will probably also travel a lot on N-roads, but it is difficult to predict which of them will be occupied, ”the ANWB explains. Many roads in and around Stroy will be closed throughout Wednesday, including the N310 between Harskamp and Straw, as well as entry and exit ramps on the A1.

Public transport in the local area is also expected to be affected by the protests. On Tuesday afternoon, public transport operator Syntus Utrecht warned passengers that there would likely be a series of delays on various routes across the region on Wednesday.

Municipalities, companies and schools in Story and the surrounding area have also taken steps to limit the risk of disruptions or disputes. A number of local schools and businesses have closed their doors to this day.

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