farm protest netherlands
© VINCENT JANNINK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images
Farm vehicles stopping traffic near the border of the Netherlands and Germany
A WAVE of agricultural protest has swept Europe and the wider world, as a host of issues conspire to pit farmers against national politics.

Farmer-led protests in Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland have sprung up in the wake of action by Dutch farmers, who were first to take to the streets to complain about the impact of new emissions rules.


Comment: More accurately, protests by farmers have been occurring across Europe with an increasing frequency for a number of years now, although, indeed, this time the situation is critical.


German farmers blockaded roads on the border with the Netherlands and gathered in large numbers to protest near the city of Heerenburg. Italian farmers also held tractor protests in rural areas and threatened to take the protests to the streets of Rome.

Polish farmers took over the streets of Warsaw complaining against cheap imports, and the high interest rates which have destabilised their businesses and threatened their livelihoods. The heat of rising inflation has also reached Spain, where farmers blocked highways in the southern region of Andalusia to protest against high fuel prices and the rising costs of essential products.

The initial anger from Dutch farmers arose from fears that they would have to downscale or stop their business to meet reduction targets for the nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions produced by their livestock. While the Dutch government has announced large investments in farm housing and technology, they will also have the option to force farmers to sell their land in case enough volunteers for the technology shift are not found.

Some estimates show that Dutch plan forcing 30% of its farms out of business by 2030.

As a result, thousands of Dutch farmers blocked ports, airports, and roads, as well as supermarket distribution centres, with their tractors, and torched straw bales in the streets and dumped manure at government buildings. The supermarkets are running out of food as the protests continue to intensify. Other sectors have also started to join in the protests, with fishermen blocking ports and several ships honking their horns to express their frustration over rising inflation.

Further afield, in the Imphal West district in India there were protests at the non-availability of fertilisers. Reports from local newspapers said farmers across the state were facing short supply of fertiliser for the on-going paddy crop season even as the state government, particularly the agriculture minister, claimed that there was no dearth of urea in the government warehouse.

Following that information, thousands of Indian farmers converged at the district agriculture office in Imphal's Lamphelpat. However, officials there informed them that only 250 bags of urea would be distributed and tokens would be issued to those in the queue in the coming days. Irked by that announcement, the farmers stormed the warehouse.