Farmers have travelled to The Hague to protest new cattle feed regulations introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture. The protests have so far not led to a change in regulations, but are expected to continue today.
Minister of Agriculture, Carola Schouten, introduced a measure allowing less protein in livestock feed. This measure aims to lower nitrogen emissions produced by cows, and thus allow agricultural projects close to nature reservations to continue. Because of nitrogen restrictions, these projects were stopped last year.
Schouten wants to make the new measures mandatory, something that has sparked widespread outrage with Dutch farmers. Farmer groups such as the Farmers Defence Force (FDF) have called the new measure “disastrous”, and claim that it will have a negative impact on the health of their cows. They have suggested that the measure should be optional for the time being.
Schouten has contested that the new measure will negatively impact the health of livestock. Although she had initially aimed to come to a compromise with the farmers, they reportedly walked away from the negotiation table.
Protest in The Hague
To protest the measure, FDF asked farmers from all over the country to travel to The Hague. At around 20:30 last night there were around 30 tractors at the Binnenhof, reports RTL Nieuws. Police and military have closed parts of the city centre, and have asked farmers to leave their tractors behind and come on foot. The protests are expected to continue today.
De Volkskrant reports similar protests in other places in the Netherlands. In Groningen and Maastricht farmers in tractors gathered in front of municipal buildings. Police also barred the way for several tractors that tried to drive on the A2 and N280.
Results of the protests
As a compromise, parliament voted at 3:30 this morning for a reconsideration of the measures. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) will examine if alternative proposals given by the farmers are feasible. However, according to Schouten “we don’t have the time.” The minister wants the new measure to go in starting beginning September, no exceptions.
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