A Dutch farmers’ party has shocked mainstream politics in Holland by taking 15 seats in provincial senate elections and claiming almost 20% of the vote.

This puts the BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB), translating as Farmer-Citizen Movement, on track to become the largest party in the Dutch parliament’s upper house.

In doing so, the farmer party has outperformed that of the country’s prime minister Mark Rutte's centre-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, but does not look to have garnered enough power to quash the Dutch government’s plans to severely reduce nitrogen emissions from farms.


The BBB was formed in 2019 in protest against the government’s plans to slash nitrogen emissions from farms.

Its aim is to cut overall nitrogen emissions in half by 2030, with region-specific reduction targets of between 12% and 95% of nitrogen emissions.

Designated land and farms near natura 2000 sites will have to meet the highest reduction targets under the plan.

The Government plans to buy out and shut down as many as 3,000 farms, referred to by some as “super polluters” in order to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets.


Last July, Irish Farmers Journal reporter Noel Bardon travelled to Holland to speak with farmers among the hundreds who protested to draw attention to government plans to shut many of the country’s farms.

Among the farmers was full-time dairy farmer Theresa Ruitenberg, who faced being compulsorily bought out, due to the farm’s proximity to natura 2000 designated land.

“They want us to get out of our place, our farm - completely. All the farmers [in the area] must stop,” Ruitenberg said in front of almost 40 tractors and lorries gearing up for the demonstration.

“Our farm is next to a nature reserve. We live 700m from a natura 2000 reserve. It will not be possible to find another farm.”

You can read more about what Dutch farmers told the Irish Farmers Journal in this story.

More about BBB

The BBB group is led by Caroline van der Plas, Wim Groot Koerkamp and Henk Vermeer, and has garnered a strong social media presence, detailing all of its protests and showcasing the work of farmers.

Its website mission declares: “Farmers cannot do without citizens, citizens cannot do without farmers. The countryside is good for roughly five to six million inhabitants of the Netherlands.

“Outside the four major cities, rural areas have different dynamics and lifestyles, in which neighborly assistance and joint - bottom-up - solving problems are self-evident.

“BBB stands up for these residents, who do not recognise themselves in the government policy aimed at the big cities.”

Read more

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