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Continuing on its quixotic quest to halve the Netherlands’ nitrogen emissions by 2030, the Dutch government is going to buy and close as many as 3,000 farms, and if some farmers don’t like it—too bad. Those who decline to sell will simply be forced to.
“There is no better offer coming,” Dutch Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal-Zeggelink told members of parliament last week.
Want more? The Dutch will give it you. In order to meet the 2030 goal as dictated by European Union conservation rules, the Netherlands will eventually have to close up to 11,200 farms, while 17,600 others will have to lower their livestock numbers dramatically. Sounds like a great plan, but I’m not sure what they’re going to eat.
The Netherlands is the second largest agricultural exporter IN THE WORLD and now the Dutch government is forcing the closure of 3000 farms to obey the EU. It's like they want us to starve to death. 😡 pic.twitter.com/fzLBVtCQyz
— .. (@Xx17965797N) November 29, 2022
Leaders said they will allocate $25 billion for the purchases and will pay “well over” their property values. Hopefully, that extra money will come in handy for the farmers because they will presumably find themselves unemployed.
Those who make their living off the land in the Netherlands are not happy with the draconian measures taken by Dutch leadership, as you’d expect. This summer brought huge protests across the country where demonstrators massed in major cities and blocked roadways, bridges, and waterways. Watch:
From Sky News Australia in July:
Netherlands Agricultural and Horticultural Organization’s Wytse Sonnema says there’s a broad sense of “frustration, anger, even despair” amongst farmers amid proposals for nitrogen reduction target plans. …
And imagine if you’re a fifth-generation farmer living on your land, making a living, being part of a local community, and you see a map saying that basically there’s no future.
No future for farming, but also no future for the economic, social, cultural fabric of the countryside.
Farming is a crucial part of the Dutch economy, and despite being only slightly larger than Maryland, the Netherlands is the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural goods, trailing only the United States. Its farming exports totaled over $109 billion in 2021. Because of all that farming, the country emits nitrogen at nearly twice the European average. Farmers argue, however, that they’re being unfairly targeted and other industries aren’t being held to the same standard.
The EU bills itself as being enlightened and standing for Democracy, which is why it’s so strange to see farmers being kicked off land they may have owned for generations. It feels like a different time and a different place… say, Stalin’s USSR, or Mao’s China.
Meanwhile, they may be shooting themselves in the foot as a country by lowering their agricultural output. Just like Germany found out when it decided to rely on Russia for energy, the Netherlands may one day regret crippling its own productivity. As Bonchie pointed out this summer, Sri Lanka also learned the hard way that people tend to get cranky when a country’s food output crashes. And is it all a fool’s game to begin with? Are they really going to help the environment? Perhaps not:
“So if productivity and yields go down in the Netherlands, it means that the demand gets taken up somewhere else,” he said.
And that “somewhere else” will see its nitrogen emissions go up, too.