Farmers Defense Force again announces actions against nitrogen plans

The Farmers Defense Force (FDF) action group plans to take new, tough action against the government’s nitrogen targets. In an interview published Saturday with de Volkskrant Chairman Mark van den Oever says that the group has, among other things, discussed ‘shutting down’ the food supply with a stopover and blocking of motorways in Natura 2000 areas or towards Schiphol.

Visiting ministers at home ‘with many more’ farmers could also ‘just happen’. Not all Dutch farmers support the radical action group: it is not clear how many farmers Van den Oever could mobilize for such actions. In the interview, Van den Oever also draws a comparison between the fate of the Jews during World War II and the Dutch peasants today.

Other organizations that stand up for farmers are not yet responding enthusiastically to the action plans. Chairman of the agricultural organization LTO Sjaak van der Tak wants the farmer’s protests to remain “appropriate and dignified”. Caroline van der Plas from the BoerBurger movement: “I do not support actions where people are visited in the home, nor actions where citizens are deprived of food.” In recent days, Van der Plas was pressured by some of her supporters to support such actions. She now says, “And I will not be compelled by people to keep my mouth shut for this.”

fisse ‘

For years, the FDF has opposed the government’s plans to reduce nitrogen emissions, often with radical actions. The group is angry about the consequences that nitrogen policy has for farmers. At the presentation of the nitrogen targets last week, Minister Christianne van der Wal (Nature and Nitrogen, VVD) confirmed an estimate that livestock should shrink by about 30 percent. Angry farmers visited Minister Van der Wal at home the same day.

IN de Volkskrant Van den Oever defends the home visit. That Minister Van der Wal’s children “shook inside” makes them “fisses, ”Said Van den Oever. He also uses that term for animal rights activists who are afraid of the FDF. Personal information about several activists has been shared online in recent years – presumably by members of the Farmers Defense Force – which has led to threats and hunts. Van den Oever: “If you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear, do you?”

Van den Oever also draws – again – a comparison between the situation of the Dutch peasants and the situation of the Jews during World War II. According to the foreman, there is currently “an attack on a population group”: Peasants are discriminated against, just as Jewish shops were discriminated against before the war. “I keep hearing it from my followers.”

Minister Van der Wal calls the comparison “inappropriate”, reports the news agency ANP. “I do not think it is possible to compare with the atrocities of World War II.” Also former leader of PvdA Lodewijk Asscher criticizes: “Farmers should emit less nitrogen. Jews were gassed. To refuse to see the difference is narcissistic anti-Semitism. ”

Radical actions

Van den Oever believes that the goals to reduce nitrogen emissions are ‘nonsense’. According to him, the nitrogen compounds emitted by domestic animals (ammonia) do not harm nature. Various studies, for example by RIVM, contradict this: the concentration at which nitrogen is emitted acidifies the soil, plant and tree species disappear, and the number of animals decreases.

Among other farmers, they are dissatisfied with the nitrogen plans, which since 2019 have resulted in protests. For example, farmers repeatedly blocked the motorways with their tractors, on their way to the RIVM research institute in Bilthoven or to demonstrate in The Hague or in supermarket distribution centers. During protests in Groningen, the door to the provincial government was broken open with a tractor.

The Farmers Defense Force sometimes went a step further in these actions and was repeatedly perceived as radical or intimidating. For example, when foreman Van den Oever compared the fate of the Jews during World War II with that of the peasants in Holland. “When there are no more peasants, do not say: we are not aware of itHe said in 2019. Members of FDF also visited the then D66 leader Rob Jetten in Denmark.

Also read this article from 2020: Peasant resistance: how intimidation and radical actions blocked the nitrogen negotiations

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