Three year long farmers protests and demonstrations in the Netherlands intensified during this week. Farmers are protesting by blocking roads outside the food distribution centre and govt buildings and on highways with their tractors.
Protesters blocked the lorries from leaving the depots which deliver fresh stocks to supermarkets and fired hey bales on the highway.
Although, several local authorities issued emergency orders to open the blockade from food distribution facilities in Geldermalsen, Haaksbergen and Raalte.
Police arrested a 16-year boy on Tuesday after being shot at him. Friesland Police said that he was driving his tractor toward police personnel. However, an investigation has started into the police shooting.
The Netherlands has been witness mass tractor protests since October 2019. These protests are carried out by farmers against the government nitrogen policy called stikstofbeleid in Dutch. In 2021, the government proposed a policy to cut nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions by halving the livestock population following the top court order.
The top court ruled out in May 2019 that the Dutch government was not following the European Union law of Natura 2000 and the government failed to cut the nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions in the Natura 2000 areas. The Nitrogen Reduction and Nature Improvement Act has three obligations for nitrogen reduction- about 40% of the area of nitrogen-sensitive nature in protected Natura 2000 areas must have a healthy nitrogen level by 2025; 50% by 2030 and 74% area by 2030.
Primarily Natura 2000 is not a law. Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world which spread throughout 27 European, both land and sea. It offers a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
Therefore, the Netherlands have more than 160 Natura 2000 projected areas.
In the Netherlands, nitrogen emission is caused by cooking gas, cars, planes, industry and farming & dairy. In farming and dairy production, ammonia is released when livestock excretion comes into contact with air and nitrogen is produced when fertilizers are absorbed into soil or water.
The country has the largest livestock in Europe and the biggest meat exporter in European Union with around 100 million cattle, Chickens, and Pigs. Similarly, the Netherlands second-largest exporter of agricultural produce after the United States.
The Netherlands government tried to convince the farmers that they voluntarily accept the new changes. But now lawmaker has warned the protesters that they have to follow the new changes and other than their businesses will be closed. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that farmers have the right to protest but to do it in a civilized way.