A caravan of tractors headed to The HagueImage: picture-alliance/ANP/V. Jannink
Dutch farmers stage tractor protest, cause huge jams
October 1, 2019
Farmers drove their tractors to The Hague to send the message to the government about the importance of their trade. They hoped to counter stereotypes that paint them as "animal abusers and environment polluters."
Thousands of farmers in the Netherlands staged a national protest on Tuesday, in support of their industry.
At least two thousand farmers took to Dutch highways and roads on their tractors, in a slow procession toward the country's capital, The Hague. Some drove their tractors along the North Sea beaches that lead to the city.
It was a visible demonstration of their trade, but it also caused major traffic chaos.
The Dutch motorists association ANWB said the tractors, along with bad weather and accidents, made Tuesday the busiest ever morning on the nation's roads, resulting in more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of traffic jams.
The Hague police said two farmers were detained, one who drove over a fence with his tractor and another who tried to stop police from detaining the first offender.
"The police respect that farmers are standing up for their interest and we're trying to facilitate this demonstration with hundreds of tractors as well as possible," authorities said in a statement.
‘Our way of life'
Protesters say their industry is being unfairly singled out for nitrogen emissions that pollute the environment.
They also sought to counter the "negative image" farming and farmers have in the Netherlands.
"We are not animal abusers and environment polluters. We have a heart for our businesses," organizers wrote on one of the protests' websites.
Kemp said lawmakers lacked "the common sense — farmer's sense — that nature and animals teach us" and called for a "new era in which the food producers of the Netherlands are listened to" by politicians.
Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said she supported farmers and pledged to listen to their concerns.
"We are working for a strong agricultural sector with an eye on a healthy environment," Schouten told the farmers.
According to LTO, the Dutch farmers' organization, the Netherlands has nearly 54,000 farms. Agriculture exports were worth some 90.3 billion euros ($98.3 billion) last year.