by Brittany Raymer
Digital Writer & Editor
Tractors across the Netherlands have been mobilized, as Dutch farmers take to the streets, the airports and the highways to protest against a nitrogen pollution policy that will destroy their businesses. In the process, they’ve inspired protests across Europe and encouraged many others fed up with damaging green energy policies.
It all started with the Dutch government announced that it wanted to cut 50% of its nitrogen and ammonia emissions by 2030, a decision that would force at least 30% of farmers out of business. The government offered to buy-out the farmers and their land but were met largely with resistance.
This policy is the result of a European Union (EU) directive that aims to decrease the amount of nitrogen deposits in the soil, often at the expense of farmers and other businesses. Spain has even been “referred to the European Court of Justice by the EU Commission on 2 December 2021 for poor implementation of the Nitrates Directive.”
As the FAIRR Initiative, an investment firm against intensive animal production, explains: “Tackling the nitrogen crisis through livestock reduction has the potential to create positive outcomes for other issues influenced by intensive animal agriculture. A reduction in livestock, for example, would see less nitrogen ending up in surrounding waterways, as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, antibiotic use, and freshwater use. Many of these issues, however, transcend national borders; hence, the environmental benefits of this policy may be offset by practices overseas. There have been reports of Dutch farmers selling their farms and relocating to other countries, such as Denmark and Germany, where land is cheaper. For this reason, to achieve real-world outcomes, the focus needs to be shifted to reducing demand for conventionally produced animal protein. The Dutch public and private sectors could help achieve this by supporting the transition to alternative proteins, such as fermentation, plant-based and cultivated meat.”
But in this global market, nothing happens in a vacuum.
The Netherlands, though it is less than a third the size of North Carolina, has been noted as the world’s second largest food exporter in terms of value, with the first being the United States. It is also Europe’s biggest meat exporter.
Given its relative size, that’s an incredible feat.
Dutch farmers have achieved this great success by utilizing the most up to date technology, including employing robots to pick soft fruit, and responsibly managing it’s fertile and exceptional soil, which is perfect for farming.
Now the Dutch government is asking the farmer to sacrifice their businesses, lifestyles and often family legacies on the altar of the green agenda, which impacts not only Holland but the rest of the world as well.
The farmers are not taking this lying down, and more of the world has come alongside them to stand in solidarity with their cause, despite the challenges it is causing.
Dutch tractors have taken to the streets, blocking airport entrances, highways and food distribution centers, leaving some Dutch shelves bare. Farmers have even dumped liquid manure in front of the home of Minister of Nature and Nitrogen Policy Christianne van der Wal in protest.
Some of the confrontations have become rather heated, with warning shots recently being fired at a teenager who was driving a tractor. No one was hurt, though three were arrested.
But that hasn’t stopped many from joining or supporting the cause. Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger asked concertgoers while on tour in the country, “Zijn er ook boeren?” It means, “Are there any farmers in the house?”
In an opinion column for The New York Post, Michael Shellenberger points out, “When you’ve lost Mick Jagger, you’ve lost the world.”
The Dutch farmer plight may seem like a distant issue, though with a new 9.1% inflation number any disruption to the food supply anywhere is a cause for concern, this could easily happen in North Carolina under some of the energy policies proposed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
One of President Joe Biden’s first executive orders was to double the amount of offshore wind energyproduced by 2030, and Gov. Cooper is following his example, claiming that the development of a massive wind farm off of North Carolina’s would help climate change, create jobs and grow the economy.
But at what cost?
Much like the Dutch farmers, those in the tourism and fishing industry of North Carolina may soon find that the beaches are much less appealing with a turbine farm disrupting the spectacular views of the sunrise. And what of the fishing industry? It’s likely that the turbines may be so disruptive that fish and other marine wildlife steer far clear of our shores or, more distressingly, their populations could be damaged by the building process of these turbines.
The climate change agenda often demands great change and claims that the disrupting of industry will make things better and not worse—but those are empty promises, much like the Dutch and other around Europe are finding out.
Read more about offshore wind’s potentially devastating impact on North Carolina’s shores here.