Did the Dutch government just close thousands of farms and cattle ranches to fight climate change?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Dutch Government Closed Farms To Fight Climate Change!
People have been sharing videos of angry farmers blocking roads with their tractors, claiming that they are protesting the closure of farms and cattle ranchers by the Dutch government.
Such videos are now being spread in pro-CCP groups as “evidence” of corrupt Western governments, or how Western governments oppress the common people.
Truth : Dutch Government Did NOT Close Farms To Fight Climate Change!
These posts appear to be an intentional “misunderstanding” of the facts surrounding these Dutch farmers’ protests.
These protests have been covered extensively, and so have the Dutch government’s proposal. So it seems incredulous that people would continue to lie about this issue.
Fact #1 : Dutch Government Did NOT Close Any Farm / Cattle Ranch
Let’s start with the most basic fact – the Dutch government did not close any farm or cattle ranch. This is complete and utter nonsense.
There are no laws in the Netherlands that would permit the Dutch government to forcibly take over, or shut down, any farm or cattle ranch.
This kind of blatant lie can only perpetuate in the minds of conspiracy nutcases, and Chinese netizens because only authoritarian governments (like the CCP in China) are capable of such actions.
Seizing and closing farms and cattle ranch may be possible for the government in China, but not in the Netherlands.
In fact, the Dutch government has offered BUY OUT (not close) farms near nature reserves.
Fact #2 : Dutch Farmers Have Been Protesting Since 2019!
What many of these “concerned netizens” (intentionally?) do not tell you is that Dutch farmers have been protesting against such climate change laws since 2019.
Fact #3 : The Government Was Complying With A Court Order
This issue actually started way back in May 2019, the Dutch Administrative Court of the Council of State (the highest administrative body in the Netherlands) ruled that the Dutch government breached EU rules on protecting nature reserves from ammonia and nitrous oxide.
The Dutch Administrative Court suspended permits for all construction projects that pollute the atmosphere with nitrogen compounds, stalling the building of new homes, roads and airport runways… as well as the expansion of dairy, pig and poultry farms.
Fact #4 : Dutch Government Tried Other Measures First
To comply with the court order, the Dutch government tried other measures first.
For example, in 2020, they cut the maximum speed limit on roads in the Netherlands from 130 km/h to just 100 km/h for most of the day, to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
The government also allocated more money to help farmers reduce emissions from pigs, and changed the composition of animal feed.
Fact #5 : Dutch Farms Produce A Lot Of Pollution
The problem is partly caused by Dutch farmers themselves. Their farms are highly concentrated, with four times more animal biomass per hectare than the EU average.
Dutch agriculture is responsible for 40% of the nitrogen pollution in the Netherlands. The entire construction sector, for example, is only responsible for 0.6% of nitrogen emissions.
Thanks to its large livestock sector, and intensive use of fertiliser, the Netherlands – the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter – is also one of the top greenhouse gas emitters in Europe.
Fact #6 : Only Farms Near Nature Reserves Are In Danger
Depending on their proximity to nature reserves (Natura-2000 areas), Dutch farms will have to reduce their nitrogen emissions by 12% to 70%.
Those located in or close to the Natura-2000 areas will be particularly hard-hit by the new nitrogen limits :
- 40% of the nitrogen sensitive Natura-2000 areas must be below the critical deposition value (< 255 mole per hectare) in 2025,
- 50% of the nitrogen sensitive Natura-2000 areas must be below the critical deposition value in 2030, and
- 74% of the nitrogen sensitive Natura-2000 areas must be below the critical deposition value in 2035.
Fact #7 : Provincial Government To Formulate Emission Reduction Plan
While the Dutch government came up with the plan to reduce nitrogen emissions to meet EU requirements, it is up to the Dutch provinces to develop the necessary measures to hit those targets.
Provincial governments have a year to formulate their own plans, to meet the pollution reduction targets.
Fact #8 : This Is Part Of EU Natura 2000 Conservation Efforts
This isn’t just a Dutch issue, it is actually part of the EU effort to protect the Natura 2000 network of vulnerable and endangered plant and animal habitats.
The Natura 2000 sites cover some 18% of the European Union land area, and 8% of its marine territory.
Fact #9 : Dutch Government Is Financing Agricultural Reforms
To help farmers meet those targets, the Dutch government has earmarked an extra €24.3 billion (about US$25.6 billion) to finance agricultural reforms and their existing buy-out programs.
Farmers who accept the government buy-out program can still open a new farm at a less sensitive location, as long as they substantially reduce nitrogen emissions.
Fact #10 : Protests Are ALLOWED In Real Democracies
What Chinese netizens may not be aware is that protests are not only common, they are allowed in real democracies.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, for example, defended the farmers’ right to protest, but reminded them not to break the law :
With the exception of a few farmers setting bales of hay on fire outside town halls and near roads, and attacking police officers, the majority of farmers have protested the proposed plan peacefully.
So what the Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛) and pro-CCP netizens are deriding as chaos, is really just people expressing their real freedom of speech, which includes the right to protest. Try that in China, and see what that gets you.
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