Dutch Farmers Furious over Forced Shutdown of 30% of Farms
The farmer demonstrations in the Netherlands have now expanded to other productive layers of society and turned into a general protest against the government. On July 4, fishermen joined in, blocking several ports (excluding Rotterdam), while farmers blocked distribution centers of major retail markets. As one of the leaders of the movement, Sieta van Keimpema, explained in a video message to German colleagues, which was shown at the party congress of the Civil Rights Movement Solidarity in Frankfurt July 2, the population supports the action, despite the food shortages it creates in some cases.
The protest was unleashed by a letter from the Minister for “Nature and Nitrogen” Christianne Van der Wal, which announced a government policy to shutdown 30% of farms in order to reduce nitrogen emissions. The letter was accompanied by a map dividing the Netherlands into several coloured areas, indicating by how much emissions need to be reduced, ranging from 12% to 95%. The government offers to buy up the farms that are to be shut down, many of which have been there for centuries, and theoretically, farmers could be allowed to set up a farm somewhere else, but this is de facto impossible, Mrs. Kampema explained. The Netherlands has about 53,000 farms and is among the largest exporters of food products, which amounted to €105 billion in 2021.
After the first massive demonstrations involving 60,000 farmers and 20,000 tractors, proposals were made to amend the legislation, but both the government and the parliament rejected them. Therefore, the farmers decided to continue and to seek alliances in other layers of society. Originally directed against the nitrogen law, the protest has now turned into one against the government, whose popular support in opinion polls is below 15%.
In fact, the situation is explosive everywhere in Europe, where the very existence of productive layers of society is threatened by hyperinflation and so-called “green” measures.
The peculiarity of the Dutch protest is that it occurs in a major center of oligarchical power in Europe. More specifically, one of the main causes of energy price hyperinflation is the TTF gas futures market in Amsterdam. The TTF was set up as part of the EU energy market, and was modeled on the British National Balancing Point. It has progressively replaced long-term bilateral contracts among countries and allows not only commodity traders, but also financial traders, to determine the price of futures contracts on natural gas. Hedge funds bets on the TTF exchange have created an artificial scarcity of gas and driven prices to an unsustainable level, well before the war in Ukraine. Financial profits generated by the TTF are now an integral part of the global financial casino. The protest movement, to be successful, needs to target this and other elements of the system, and call for a regulated “New Bretton Woods” sort of protection for producers and households.