By Jeanne Smits
Protests in the Netherlands against “climate laws” that threaten to shut down 30 percent of livestock farms in the country and force farmers to use less fertilizer, bringing down crop yields, are continuing all over the country.
There was a new twist this Friday: angry fishermen have joined a “playful” protest on the island of Texel, declaring it a “free republic.” Texel, the largest island in the “lion’s tail” of northern Holland, could lose half of its already dwindling fleet, and its traditional landscape of harbours and pastures could disappear if the “nitrogen oxide policy” of the Dutch government, which also targets fisheries, is implemented.
Many ordinary citizens joined in the fun, displaying peasant kerchiefs on their bicycles. The popular holiday destination saw farmers distributing informative leaflets and specially printed “passports” warning the population that the local community would change under the climate laws forced upon the population by the UN and the European Union via the complicit national government.
Over the last few days, Dutch farmers have chosen not to organize giant demonstrations like those of last week. Now, using the force and impact of their tractors, they are resorting to multiple, small-scale actions with huge repercussions on transportation, food distribution, and other sectors.
About twenty farmers surrounded the Groningen airport in the north on Thursday. The previous day, a handful of tractors parked alongside a highway near Groenlo while farmers made a large fire that hampered visibility and slowed down traffic.
About forty tractors blocked a waste disposal company in Wijster, a village in the northern province of Drenthe, on Friday morning after having tipped mounds of gravel and debris on the roads leading to the dump.
In Loosbroek, in the Catholic province of North-Brabant, children demonstrated on toy tractors, bearing signs in support of the current protests with slogans such as: “Can I still be a farmer like Dad when I grow up?” Accompanied by their parents, they proudly rode to school on pedal tractors in an event organized by the farmers’ organization LTO, whose spokeswoman said: “We thought it was a good idea to start with the future.”
In other places, dozens of tractors converged around government buildings, industrial plants, distribution centers, and supermarkets. One fresh food distribution center catering for supermarkets around Holten, a village north of Arnhem, got wind of the approach of a column of tractors and blocked the access to its plant, forcing the farmers to halt. The farmers had a conversation with the plant’s director, who told the press the talk was “friendly,” and then left the location.
Another demonstration took place around the provincial hall of Middelburg, near the Belgian border, this time to voice support for the Zeeland province’s leaders’ stand against nitrogen oxide laws. These laws certainly do not have unanimous support, not even in official regional circles.
This is also the case in Gelderland, in the central part of the country, where both conservative and “progressive” parties have rejected the section of “nitrogen minister” Christianne van der Wal’s drastic emission reduction plans that would wipe many of the region’s farms off the map. The provincial leaders came up with their own plan, with lower objectives than those of the national government, and the guarantee that not a single farm would be expropriated under the current climate laws. They say that, under their plan, general objectives would be met.
This at least goes to show that forced gas emission reductions are open to assessment, and that government plans may well be unduly exaggerating the measures to be implemented over the coming years.
As a worldwide food shortage appears to be looming, with the United Nations warning against “food insecurity levels” threatening “billions” because of the Russian war in Ukraine and supply chain problems, forcibly preventing farmers from producing crops and meat seems preposterous, to say the least. Now is the time to realize that “no farmers, no food” – one of the Dutch farmers’ main slogans – is the plain truth, and that farmers should be supported, not hampered, in their work.
As the world’s second largest agricultural exporting nation, the tiny Netherlands may have over-industrialized their farms, but they are certainly feeding millions. Surely, the emergency right now is to safeguard food produce.
International organizations and agencies are sending out contradictory messages. On the one hand, they warn that people are “marching to the brink of starvation;” on the other, inspired by the belief that “global warming” is related to human activity, they are setting up stringent rules to stop activities necessary for the feeding, clothing, housing, and warming of billions of souls, all in the name of “the planet.”
Such contradictory messaging was part and parcel of the COVID crisis. It accompanied the increasing interference of the authorities in private life and economic activity in what was a truly totalitarian approach to power. Masks, lockdowns, and vaccine mandates were all part of it, as was the publicity given to police implementation of the “new normal.” The heavy fines for walking along a beach alone in France were not only absurd, they sent a message to the population of who was in charge, even at the price of simple reason. In fact, the police presence was quite small during lockdowns and curfews, but the publicity given to a few ruthless fining operations was enough to keep a large part of the population in fear of law enforcement.
The same appears to be happening right now: the Netherlands are being used as an experimental playground where farmers are taking the brunt of extreme environmentalism. The message is just as clear: they must comply or disappear (or both) because supranational entities have “expert” mathematical models on which to rest decisions whose objective is to reach a so-called “balance” between human activity and the preservation of nature, as defined by a very human view of what nature should be.
No-one has ever stopped a volcano from spitting out its ash and lava because that leads to global cooling, or because it will create desolation – and then fertility – over large swathes of countryside. In the Netherlands, farmers are being barred from working in a way that allows them to live decently off the produce of their land because their fertilizers are “greening” formerly poor earth.
“Saving the planet” – whatever that may mean – has become the measuring stick for the morality of human actions. Not even this is consistent and coherent; no public action is taken, for instance, against the massive ingestion of hormonal contraceptives whose nefarious influence on river fish, as contaminated sewage flows out to sea, is now a given.
It is on this eco-altar that Dutch farmers are being offered up. This is only one point of a vicious circle that started with the planification of agriculture on the European level, with directives covering everything from public subsidies to the promotion of certain kinds of crops, large agricultural enterprises, monoculture – and the use of artificial fertilizers which are now being hunted down.
In the name of “sustainability,” officialdom now wants to put an end to this in the same top-down fashion. About 5 percent of Dutch farmers have made a counter-proposal in which they will agree to return to farming without chemical fertilizers, on condition that they will get fair pay from distributors and supermarkets and that young farmers who choose a more “organic” way of producing crops and livestock may obtain land that was to be expropriated under the new climate laws.
While this might be a solution for some, the real problem lies in the loss of freedom for all, with the state acting as the owner of the land and as the piper who calls the agricultural tune. It is all a matter of the authorities deciding what is good for you – and for the “environment” whose so-called needs now trump mankind’s.
In so doing, they obviously create resentment and anger among the farmers and, potentially, an insurrection that they will argue needs to be repressed. It is surely in the Dutch government’s interest that the population should turn against these desperate farmers faced with the prospect of losing their livelihoods and their way of life, which is still in many respects still the kind of life their ancestors knew.
As the crisis continues, and farmers block transport and food distribution centers, some supermarkets faceshortages of milk products and fresh vegetables. Shelves emptied within days. The supply chain is now so efficient, says academic Laurens Sloot, who specializes in retailing, that it is not capable of withstanding a major blow. “It all works perfectly as long as nothing goes wrong, but as soon as something does go wrong, you notice it immediately,” he said. At the beginning of the week, 20 of the 40 Dutch distribution centers were blocked by the protests. That number has now gone down to seven because the authorities threatened to use mobile police units to protect some of the warehouses.
The violent incident in which a police officer shot at a tractor driven by a farmer’s 16-year-old son, Jouke Hospes, missing the boy by inches (see LifeSite’s coverage here), got international attention. A public enquiry is underway, and the officer is now at home on sick leave, his commanding officer told the press, horrified by what he did. Apparently this officer felt under pressure because the police had received orders not to allow farmers to circulate in their tractors in the area where the incident took place. The misadventure ended without harm, but other violent police actions took place throughout the country, involving beatings and teargas. In some places farmers’ tempers also rose. It is an explosive situation that may ultimately turn to the advantage of the powers that be.
Empty shelves can hardly make the population sensitive to the farmers’ distress. On the other hand, an app that allows customers to shop directly at farms (“Beter bij de boer,” that is, “Better straight from the farmer”) has seen a spectacular rise in its membership, and people are using it more and more.
The Dutch farm crisis as part of the Great Reset
Many see the Dutch farm crisis as an episode of the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” initiative.
The WEF published a brochure in January 2020 that certainly appears to justify their opinion. Under the title “Incentivizing Food Systems transformation,” it describes how the world population should change its eating habits to make production more “sustainable” and meet both climate goals and the UN’s 2030 “Sustainable Development Goals.”
While the authors admit that cultural and national differences make a single approach difficult to uphold, the general idea is still that changes should be made under public supervision, from a supranational level, with the help of multinational corporations.
It comes as no surprise to see that the brochure was co-authored by McKinsey & Company, the global management company that practically ran the COVID crisis in France and was tasked here with distributing the COVID “vaccines.”
It’s an interesting, if chilling, read. Addressing everything from diets that need to be changed to putting pressure on farmers to change their produce and their methods of raising it, the pamphlet calls for “collective action at the global and regional level.” This is to be achieved by public spending and other actions to trigger innovations, with the use of modern marketing techniques to obtain “consumer behavioral change.”
This quote from the brochure gives a good idea of the WEF’s approach:
Stakeholder resistance to change: Lastly, garnering support for policy reforms from a cross-section of stakeholders is another important challenge. Any institutional or policy change will result in a redistribution of benefits or costs. Stakeholders who are adversely affected by the policy change (e.g. lost jobs, higher costs or loss of competitiveness) – whether corporations, individuals or investors – are likely to resist the proposed change. In addition, institutions tend to be resistant to change in the absence of an external shock or substantial force for change. A consultative process during policy formulation, especially to ensure that the voices of the marginalized are heard, is essential to building public trust. For example, approaches such as citizen assemblies that bring together a group of people for several sessions to learn, debate, deliberate and recommend ways to address a complex policy challenge can build consensus and support for policy reforms. An additional requirement is a clear articulation of the rationale for change and mitigation strategies or ways to support transition.
“Citizen assemblies” is often just another phrase for the implementation of “group dynamics” where agents deliberately change opinions with peer pressure. As for the idea of “external shocks” helping to implement change, it speaks for itself.
Among the WEF’s pet dreams for the future is a world where insects, vegetable “meat,” and lab-grown meat would provide protein and tasty meals without the need for livestock.
Two instances of exemplary action are given by the brochure: Burger King’s creation of the “Impossible Burger” that supposedly gives consumers the taste and texture of a good burger steak without a gram of real meat, and China’s 2017 reduction of fertilizer usage as a response to the UN SDG agenda. The WEF’s message here is clear: communism works!
Strangely enough, there is a link between the King and the nation: China is a huge producer of soy and other crops that go into so-called “vegan meat.”
It is also interesting that the “Stewardship Board on Shaping the Future of Food” listed at the end of the brochure includes corporations and trusts such as PepsiCo (for healthy drinks?), Syngenta (who sell seeds; in Europe farmers are generally not allowed to keep seeds from their crops but must buy new ones every year), the Rockefeller Foundation (which advocates for population control), and many others.
Meanwhile, the government of the Netherlands is one of the four donors to the Food Systems that also include the Wellcome Trust. The latter also funds research on the artificial creation of embryos without sperm or eggs.
Last but not least, the Netherlands is at the center of the “Food Innovation Hubs” launched at the 2021 Davos WEF meeting. Not only does the Dutch government fund the Hubs that are aimed at redesigning “how we produce and consume food,” the new entity’s Global Coordinating Secretariat was established in Wageningen, Netherlands, only last year.
A food revolution is underway, and the Netherlands are at its core. Better than anything else, this explains the Dutch government’s readiness to destroy many of the country’s traditional farms in the name of globally-defined “change.”