In the Netherlands, the agricultural sector is in crisis. Dissatisfied with an environmental proposal approved last week by the government, farmers block streets and roads that give access to supermarkets.
Some ports were also blocked by fishermen who showed solidarity with the protesters. And Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport warned travelers about the risk of roadblocks jeopardizing access to airports, advising on the use of public transport.
What the government plan says
Last Tuesday (28) Dutch lawmakers decided to reduce emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50% up until 2030. The provinces were given a year to formulate plans to achieve the target.
Reforms include reducing livestock and encouraging the purchase of farms whose animals produce large amounts of ammonia. The protesters complain that they are being “persecuted” by the authorities, “with no prospects for the future”.
What are the demonstrations like
Now the protesters are focus on blocking access from distribution centers to supermarkets. Since Monday (04), tractors have been blocking the path that leads to the Albert supermarket chain Heijn, in the city of Zaandam, north of Amsterdam. Banners affixed to vehicles carry messages such as “Our Farmers, Our Future.”
In the northern city of Drachten, signs attached to tractors suggest to consumers and policymakers: “Think for a moment about what you want to eat without the farmers.”
The country’s Central Food Supply Office published a note stating that “supermarkets do everything they can to keep stores stocked, but, if the lockdowns continue, it could make people unable to do their daily shopping.”
Last week, protests took place in front of the home of Ministers of Justice and Security and Agriculture. . Demonstrations also took place in police stations.
The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, refused to negotiate with the protest leadership and nominated former Deputy Prime Minister Johan Remkes to be the intermediary between the government and the farmers.
According to a national agricultural lobby group, LTO, there are almost 50 thousand agricultural companies in the Netherlands, with exports totaling 94,5 billion euros in 2019.