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Dutch Farmers In Fresh Protest

by Wangah Wanyama
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The Hague, Netherlands | AFP | Thursday

Dutch police arrested seven people and two officers were injured on Thursday as angry farmers renewed their protest campaign against the government’s environmental plans.

Several hundred farmers and their supporters gathered on a square in The Hague, an AFP journalist said, far less than the 10,000 that organisers the Farmers Defence League had predicted.

Previous protests against plans to cut livestock numbers and possibly close farms to meet emissions targets have attracted global attention, and the support of former US president Donald Trump.

“We have now arrested seven people, including for non-compliance with orders and assault. Two officers suffered minor injuries during an arrest,” police said on Twitter.

Riot police with shields and batons at one point stopped a group of farmers from walking to the Dutch parliament, where lawmakers were debating the farm plans.

Talks between the government and farmers’ organisations that began in 2022 broke down last week.

“We just think it’s a shame that we want to follow our passion here in the Netherlands and that we are simply chased away,” farmer Henkjan Maas, 19, told AFP.

The Hague authorities meanwhile banned farmers from bringing their tractors into the city for the protest. Farmers later blocked a provincial road in the central Netherlands, local media said.

The leader of the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BoerBurgerBeweging) or BBB, which won the most seats in the upper house of parliament in elections in March, meanwhile cancelled plans to speak at the rally.

Caroline van der Plas said she would not attend after pro-farmer activists released the phone numbers of several lawmakers.

Dutch farmers are protesting against plans to cut livestock numbers and possibly close some farms in order to cut emissions of nitrogen to within EU rules.

Nitrogen, a greenhouse gas, is emitted in particular by fertilisers and livestock effluents and damages the environment. 

The Dutch farmers have held several protests in recent years, with farmers blockading highways, dumping manure and garbage on roads and rallying noisily outside politicians’ houses.

© Agence France-Presse

Leader of Netherlands’ ‘Farmers Defense Force’ (FDF) Mark van den Oever speaks during a protest on The Malieveld in The Hague on June 29, 2023, during an agricultural debate in the House of Representatives. (Photo by Robin van Lonkhuijsen / ANP / AFP)

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