In what appears to be building tensions between protesting Dutch farmers and authorities, video footage shows a policeman pointing his gun at a farmer partaking in a tractor protest.

Thousands of farmers continue to protest in the Netherlands as a result of government plans to make them cut back on production, relocate, and a potential buyout of farmers to exit the sector. The measures are being used as policy makers seek to reduce nitrogen emissions by 50% by 2030.

The country has been zoned by Minister for Nature and Nitrogen Policy Christianne van der Wal-Zeggelink, with nitrogen reduction targets of 12% to 70% facing each zone, depending on its current soil and water quality.

Large-scale demonstrations

On 22 June, 40,000 farmers gathered on a farm on the edge of Stroe, Netherlands, in protest against the government plans. The area is understood to be one of the most affected by the strict measures, with farmers in the region being asked to either relocate or exit completely from the sector.

In the fortnight since then, farmer protests have continued with Dutch tillage farmer Pieter Sikkema telling the Irish Farmers Journal that the current targets are supermarket distribution centres.

Sikkema and his wife were taking a day’s break on Tuesday after protesting straight for 48 hours until 2am that morning at their local distribution centre as the supermarkets are “not on our side”.

He said that while tractor blockades have caused disturbances, many within the general public have started to support the farmer protesters with even non-farming rural residents joining in places.

Further protests planned

Sikkema said he will join his next protest on Thursday and warned that further large-scale demonstrations are planned for later this week and this weekend.

The tillage farmer described how Dutch farm organisations have been very well organised, with protest locations and plans shared “in secret” and at very late notice.

He said that before the Government introduced the strict environmental laws, farmers in the Netherlands had been “getting more efficient” and were “going the right direction”.

He said that what is currently planned is a “top-down approach” and that “there is nothing practical in it”.

On farmers being asked to reduce production, he said “fixed costs like land and machinery will stay the same as we had”.

“Farmers will be depending on Government for income but farmers want to farm for themselves,” he said.