France is in flames. Israel is erupting. America is facing a second January 6. In the Netherlands, however, the political establishment is reeling from an entirely different type of protest — one that, perhaps more than any other raging today, threatens to destabilise the global order. The victory of the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) in the recent provincial elections represents an extraordinary result for an anti-establishment party that was formed just over three years ago. But then again, these are not ordinary times.

The BBB grew out of the mass demonstrations against the Dutch government’s proposal to cut nitrogen emissions by 50% in the country’s farming sector by 2030 — a target designed to comply with the European Union’s emission-reduction rules. While large farming companies have the means to meet these goals — by using less nitrogen fertiliser and reducing the number of their livestock — smaller, often family-owned farms would be forced to sell or shutter. Indeed, according to a heavily redacted European Commission document, this is precisely the strategy’s goal: “extensifying agriculture, notably through buying out or terminating farms, with the aim of reducing livestock”; this would “first be on a voluntary basis, but mandatory buyout is not excluded if necessary”.

 

It is no surprise, then, that the plans sparked massive protests by farmers, who see it as a direct attack on their livelihoods, or that the BBB’s slogan — “No Farms, No Food” — clearly resonated with voters. But aside from concerns about the impact of the measure on the country’s food security, and on a centuries-old rural way of life integral to Dutch national identity, the rationale behind this drastic measure is also questionable. Agriculture currently accounts for almost half of the country’s output of carbon dioxide, yet the Netherlands is responsible for less than 0.4% of the world’s emissions. No wonder many Dutch fail to see how such negligible returns justify the complete overhaul of the country’s farming sector, which is already considered one of the most sustainable in the world: over the past two decades, water dependence for key crops has been reduced by as much as 90%, and the use of chemical pesticides in greenhouses has been almost completely eliminated.
 
Source: UnHerd
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