In another blow to Dutch farmers, the Dutch government is pushing to effectively shut down 3,000 “peak polluter” farms by purchasing them to comply with European emission standards. Nature and Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal said that farmers would be offered over 100 percent of farm value, but if voluntary measures fail, farmers will face forced buyouts.
“For agricultural entrepreneurs, there will be a stopping scheme that will be as attractive as possible,” said van der Wal in a series of parliamentary briefings. “For industrial peak polluters, we will get to work with a tailor-made approach and in tightening permits. After a year, we will see if this has achieved enough.”
»Related: New Dutch emission rules hamstring farmers & threaten food security
So, how did this happen? In 2021, a research report was released outlining a 30 percent reduction of livestock by 2030 to cut nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50 percent. Following the announcement earlier this year that livestock production would need to be cut, the upside-down Dutch flag became an expression of dissatisfaction. At the same time, farmers took to the streets in tractors to protest.
Johan Remkes, a former deputy prime minister of the Netherlands, writes in his report titled What is Possible, that many farmers know that something has to change. “There is no farmer who doesn’t care about nature,” Remkes writes. “There should be a dignified and proper transition process…maybe most importantly, there must be real recognition of the emotions and anger.”
Netherlands Police are using heavy machinery to tip over tractors with farmers INSIDE of them. When protesters peacefully stand against the machines, the police drag them into black vans. Shocking Chinese style protest enforcement in a supposed western liberal-democracy. pic.twitter.com/p7usLwkXVE
— Keean Bexte (@TheRealKeean) December 2, 2022
Farmers are still taking a stand. They once again took to the streets in tractors to protest the closing. One such farmer had his tractor tipped by the police after refusing to leave. According to reports, the farmer was arrested because of his protest.
Dutch farmer Geertjan Kloosterboer told Fox News, “I don’t know what we can expect. For my own family, I hope that one of my sons can continue farming if he wants.”
The Netherlands raises a surplus of food, as the second-largest exporter of agricultural commodities behind the United States. And, they’ve done it while cutting fertilizer use in half.
A reduction of 3,000 farms could spell trouble for food security. Food prices in Europe have already surged since the invasion of Ukraine — flour, for one, has gone up in France by more than 30 percent. Food as a whole has jumped 16 percent in the European Union while energy prices have skyrocketed by 40 percent.
Other European countries are trying to go organic
In Germany, the government is pushing for a shift to organic farming with a plan to have 3o percent of farmland under organic cultivation by 2030. there’s discussion to turning to 30 percent organic production and no longer fertilizing fields with synthetic nitrogen.
Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa banned synthetic fertilizer and pesticide imports abruptly in 2021, forcing farmers to switch to organic farming almost overnight. The results were disastrous. Rice production dropped 20 percent in the first six months after implementation, and the country’s cash crop, tea, fell by 16 percent.
»Related: Switch to organic is splitting Sri Lanka apart at the seams
On average across all crops, organic production has about 25 percent lower yields than conventional production has.