Dutch farmers rose to fame in 2019 after their government began an attempt to put many of them out of business with forced buyouts of their herds to reduce pollution. At Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses a documentary on the situation titled Nitrogen 2000. He writes:
Nitrogen 2000 is an important 45-minute documentary on the Dutch farmer struggle of 2019-23. Dutch cattle farmers own 70% of Holland, but in 2019, the government began pushing for a forced buy out of 50% of their land,1 claiming it’s necessary to reduce pollution. But for the approximately 60,000 farmers in the Netherlands,2 agriculture is a way of life, often passed down through the generations — one that’s necessary to supply food for the population.
According to a press release for the film, “Dutch farmers produce the most food per hectare of farmers anywhere, and the Netherlands is the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products.”3
Farms are interwoven into the fabric of their communities, such that “everyone, even if you live in the city like in Amsterdam or in Rotterdam, in a five-minute drive you will see cows, you will see farmland … it’s so ingrained in our society, in our way of life, that farmers are part of our culture. Everyone has someone in their family who was once a farmer,” says political commentator Sietske Bergsma.4
But as professor Han Lindeboom, a marine ecologist at Wageningen University & Research, explains in the film, “The government has taken the stance that we have a huge problem with nature and that due to EU regulations we should save nature. And nowadays we want to solve that problem by simply eliminating a large amount of farms.”5
The Dutch government claims it needs to nationalize half of cattle farmers’ land — an amount equal to about one-third of Holland — in order to reduce nitrogen, but experts say this plan is seriously flawed.
Is Nitrogen Really the Problem?
Carbon and nitrogen have been declared environmental enemies by officials worldwide, prompting an array of restrictions. The UN has stated that nitrogen must be managed in order to save the planet, and nitrogen is described as “one of the most important pollution issues facing humanity.”6 Nitrogen not only is found in fertilizers, but it also makes up about 70% of air7 and is essential for plant growth.
“The nitrogen is only a problem for a few plants,” Lindeboom explains. “There are certain plants that don’t like it and they disappear. Other plants like it and they appear. So, basically what you’re doing is changing nature.”8
“They have declared that nitrogen is the major problem,” Lindeboom, an adviser to NIOZ, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, continues in the press release. “Well, I am an expert in nitrogen and I dare to say it is not.”9 According to Lindeboom, the government’s computer models, which are used to support its plan to buy up farmland, are based on a flawed assumption that nitrogen migrates from one field to the next.10
The EU is also the site of the largest network of protected areas globally, an area known as Natura 2000, which covers 18% of EU land. In Holland alone, there are 162 Natura 2000 areas.11 In 118 of them, it’s said there are organisms living that don’t like too much nitrogen.12
“In 2021, the European Union’s Natura 2000 network released a map of areas in the Netherlands that are now protected against nitrogen emissions. Any Dutch farmer who operates their farm within 5 kilometers of a Natura 2000 protected area would now need to severely curtail their nitrogen output, which in turn would limit their production,” Roman Balmakov, Epoch Times reporter and host of “Facts Matter,” says.13
Government Forcing Out Farmers
Many Dutch farmers are now facing the loss of their farms over the controversial nitrogen rules. Farmer Jos Block says:14
“We have a lot of problems with the nitrogen rules because our farm is near to and in Natura 2000. And that is really a problem for us. This is my land. I’m the owner. But this is also a nature land, the Natura 2000. In this area, the government says we need to reduce 95% of the nitrogen that’s coming out of the stables.”
But experts, including Lindeboom, say this is “absolutely not necessary to save nature” and the government is “picking on farmers much too much.”15 Dutch dairy farmer Nynke Koopmans with the Forum for Democracy is among those who believe the nitrogen problem is made up.
“It’s one big lie,” she says. “The nitrogen has nothing to do with environment. It’s just getting rid of farmers.” Another farmer said if new nitrogen rules go into effect, he’d have to reduce his herd of 58 milking cows down to six. Nitrogen scientist Jaap C. Hanekamp, Ph.D., was working for a government committee to study nitrogen, tasked with analyzing the government’s nitrogen model. He told Balmakov:16
“The whole policy is based on the deposition model about how to deal with nitrogen emissions on nature areas. And I looked at the validation studies and show that the model is actually crap. It doesn’t work. And doesn’t matter. They still continue using it. Which is, in a sense, unsettling. I mean, really, can we do such a thing in terms of policy? Use a model which doesn’t work? It’s never about innovation, it’s always about getting rid of farmers.”
The Dutch government has been gradually tightening its grasp on farmers for some time. Every year, farmers must report details about the number of cows they farm and how many they plan to have in the future. The government also dictates what types of crops farmers grow and requires complicated and expensive manure testing for phosphates and ammonia, driving up farmers’ costs and reducing their income.17
Read more here.
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