EU Supporting Dutch Farm Shutdown Plan

The Netherlands’ plan to shut down a number of farms received crucial backing from the European Union, potentially blocking the reform efforts of newly elected Dutch officials.

The Dutch government planned to cut both nitrogen and ammonia emissions by half by 2023. This would result in farmers being forced to limit their use of fertilizer and the number of livestock on their farms. One estimate placed the reduction of farm animals at 30%.

Under the plan, thousands of farmers would be uprooted from their farms and offered more than the value of their land to reduce emissions. This plan may ultimately affect 3,000 of the farms responsible for the largest shares of nitrogen emissions.

The government also announced a full-value buyout of a number of other farms, including to purchase and shut down dairy, pork and poultry farms. The nation reserved about 1.4 billion euros for the effort.

The small northern European country is one of the continent’s leading agricultural producers.

While there was extensive opposition to the Dutch government’s plan, the European Union backed the effort. The organization called such plans “necessary and appropriate.”

Under the plan, any farmer that accepts the buyout would be unable to continue farming in either the Netherlands or elsewhere within the European Union.

The Dutch public pushed back against these agricultural plans, leading to mass protests across the nation. Dutch farmers formed large columns of tractors in protests, blocking a number of highways and setting hay bales on fire in protest.

The protests gathered about 40,000 Dutch citizens against the environmental plan. The protests continued throughout much of the summer of 2022.

The growing opposition to the plan also resulted in a lopsided victory by the new Farmer-Citizen Movement in the country’s 2023 elections.

The populist movement received considerable support across the nation, winning 15 votes in the country’s senate. In addition, this also meant that the Farmer-Citizen Movement was tied as the largest such party in the body.

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