Dutch announce forced buyout of farms to cut emissions
The Dutch government is planning to buy up and shut down almost 3,000 farms in a bid to meet tough EU greenhouse gas emissions targets.
The targets dictate that the Netherlands must halve emissions of nitrous oxide and ammonia by 2030.
See also: Dutch farmer protests derail emissions plan
To meet this, the Dutch government will use some of a dedicated £22bn programme to buy out farm businesses at more than 100% of their value.
Alternatively, farmers can innovate to slash emissions, move operations to a less environmentally sensitive area, or switch to a different business.
In a stark ultimatum to farmers, nitrogen minister Christianne van der Wal warned “there is no better offer coming”.
If farmers ignore the offer, the Dutch government will begin a programme of forced buyouts next year.
The farm buyout plan is likely to add further anger and fresh impetus to an already violent campaign of farmer protests across the Netherlands.
Since the targets were announced in the spring and later passed through the Dutch parliament, Amsterdam and other major cities have been periodically brought to a standstill.
Farmers have barricaded roads with blazing straw, spread slurry across streets and let off fireworks.
In some areas, up to 40,000 protesters have descended on cities and fought police in violent, running battles.
Other protests have gridlocked motorways with columns of slow-moving tractors advancing on the Dutch parliament buildings in The Hague.
One of the groups behind the protests, known as the Farmers Defence Force (FDF), has vowed to continue with the campaign of unrest.
Farmers are also using political channels and have put up alternative candidates in elections to oust the sitting MP.
Meanwhile, the main farming union LTO Nederland has been pressing for the policy to be dropped.
The union argued the Dutch food sector was being singled out by its government while other sectors and EU member states faced lesser controls.
In contrast to the draconian farming measures, industrial polluters will be offered a much less impactful regime of tighter permits.
According to a report by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the permit system considered for big oil, aviation and steel companies will be reassessed after 12 months.
By that time, many Dutch farms will have been served notice to quit and turfed off their land.