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This could be NZ in a few years…


The Hague – This could be NZ in a few years. Dutch farmers have protest at plans to reduce livestock numbers and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Shots were fired at the protest as farmers took their tractors to the streets.

Police in the Netherlands responded to Dutch farmers violently protesting government plans to slash nitrogen emissions.

Farmers rode their tractors through the province of Friesland, in the northern Netherlands. The tractors moved to force a barricade of police officers and vehicles out of the way. The threatening situation saw one tractor shot at by armed police.

The protest ended with three arrests for attempted murder and no injuries.

Deeming the environmental policy as an unavoidable transition, the government will impose stringent restrictions on the region’s agricultural sector. The move is part of the 2019 Climate Act to bring greenhouse gas emissions down by 49 percent by 2030.

Pulling in €94.5 billion in exports in 2019, the Dutch farming sector is a significant economic string in the Netherlands’ bow. But it is also a major contributor to its environmental impact.

Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 87 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions which makes reducing livestock numbers imperative, particularly for farming-reliant nations such as the Netherlands.

Farmers have previously attempted to reduce their operational emissions in light of the nitrogen crisis in the region. The government now wants to see more progress. It acknowledges the struggle ahead for agricultural businesses as they try to align with the new plan.

The new reduction targets are ambitious. Many farms will need to produce up to 70 percent fewer emissions. However, figures of up to 95 percent are touted.

The Dutch government has set aside €24.3 billion to finance the realisation of the emissions targets.

Agricultural business owners are preparing to use less fertiliser and reduce livestock numbers. The latter could see smaller farms forced to close.

Provincial governments have one year to finalize plans for meeting their localized reduction targets. The Netherlands Agricultural and Horticultural Association has called the targets unrealistic. It currently represents more than 35,000 farmers, many of who are calling for large-scale demonstrations in The Hague. Small protests have seen farmers driving their tractors in disruptive convoys.  

The Paris Agreement calls for emissions to be cut to prevent global warming increasing by more than 1.5°C. In simple terms, this means a 45 percent global reduction of said emissions by 2030.