Dutch farmers protest reining in nitrogen oxide emissions

Some thousand of farmers converge on The Hague, 19 Februaty 2020, in protest against the government's plans to rein in emissions of nitrogen oxide.

Farmers angry at the Dutch government’s policies to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions protested Tuesday in The Hague, snarling traffic as they drove their tractors toward the center of the city.

Members of the Farmers Defence Force group who converged on the city from around the country wanted to drive past King Willem-Alexander’s palace in a forest on the edge of The Hague, but police and the municipality banned the move.

Instead, farmers’ representatives were given permission to present a letter to a representative of the monarch in the city.

One representative of the farmers, Sieta van Keimpema, said the coronavirus pandemic was hampering farmers’ efforts to engage with lawmakers.

“The whole democratic decision forming is being frustrated,” she told national broadcaster NOS.

The Dutch farmers argue that they are being unfairly targeted by measures to cut back emissions near areas in the densely populated Netherlands designated as protected natural habitats.

The Dutch agriculture sector is crucial to the Dutch economy. Farmers’ organization LTO says exports from the country’s nearly 54,000 farms and agricultural businesses were worth €90.3 billion ($98.3 billion) in 2018.

A banner on one tractor heading toward The Hague summed up farmers’ concerns about their livelihoods and the European nation’s prosperity. It read simply: “No future without farmers.”

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