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Farmers in the Netherlands have formed their own version of Canada’s “Freedom Convoy,” blocking highways with tractors, setting hay bales on fire, and taking other action to protest the government’s recent goal of reducing emissions that could force some farms to close.

“Where is our prime minister? This country is on fire and farmers are opposing the government,” a spokesman for the protests said last week as he stood atop a hay bale in the city of Eerbeek. Guardian.

About 40,000 protesters gathered in central Netherlands to protest plans to reduce nitrogen and ammonia emissions last month. Weeks later, the protests continued across the country with no sign of abating.

Photos and videos show farmers blocking a highway near the German border, with some Germans joining the protest. Hundreds of businesses in three cities were virtually closed due to three separate protests, the Guardian reported Saturday. Meanwhile, some supermarkets have sterile shelves because farmers also targeted distribution centers earlier this month.

THE DUTCH POLICE SHOOT THE TRACTOR DURING THE NIGHT OF THE PROTESTS IN THE FARM

Farmers gather in their vehicles next to a German-Netherlands border sign during a protest on the A1 motorway near Rijssen on 29 June 2022 against the Dutch government’s nitrogen plans. – Netherlands OUT (Photo by Vincent Jannink / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo by VINCENT JANNINK / ANP / AFP via Getty Images)
(VINCENT JANNINK / ANP / AFP via Getty Images)

Farmers say the protests are not intended to anger their fellow citizens and consumers, but to force the government into a referendum.

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The Dutch government aims to reduce nitrogen and ammonia emissions by 50% by 2030 in an effort to improve air, land and water quality. The plans include the reduction of fertilizers used on farms and the return of the estimated number of livestock by 30%.

The country is one of the largest agricultural producers in the world, exporting approximately $ 97 billion of fruit, flowers, vegetables, dairy products and meat in 2020.

“If you ask me now, I would say please don’t even think about it,” said farmer Jaap Zegwaard of recommending agriculture to younger generations. “There are so many worries. Life is too good to deal with what’s happening in the agricultural sector right now.”

Farmers block the arrival and departure halls of Groningen Eelde Airport in Eelde, the Netherlands, to protest the government's far-reaching plans to reduce nitrogen emissions on 6 July 2022.

Farmers block the arrival and departure halls of Groningen Eelde Airport in Eelde, the Netherlands, to protest the government’s far-reaching plans to reduce nitrogen emissions on 6 July 2022.
(KEES VAN DE VEEN / ANP / AFP via Getty Images)

“Ask the average farmer – he’s deeply sad,” he said.

Farmers say they are being unfairly targeted by the rules, while other sectors, such as aviation, construction and transportation, are also contributing to emissions and facing fewer rules. The farmers also said they were not given a clear picture of their future in light of the reforms.

ANGRY DUTCH FARMERS CLOGGING 700 MILES OF HIGHWAY DURING EMISSION RULES PROTEST

The tractor convoys are a nod to Canada’s Freedom Convoys, the Guardian reported, which were held across Canada earlier this year to protest the strict national coronavirus vaccine policies.

Dutch fishermen also joined the protests, blocking the port of Harlingen with fishing boats last week, EuroNews reported.

The demonstrations became so widespread that Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger shouted at peasants in Dutch during an Amsterdam concert on Thursday.

The Dutch protests attracted more attention Tuesday when police opened fire on a 16-year-old farmer driving a tractor in the northern area of ​​the country during a protest. The teenager moved his tractor towards the police, according to German outlet Deutsche Welle. After initially being held on charges of attempted murder, the teenager was released without charge. No one was injured in the incident, according to police.

The protests were mostly peaceful, with a demonstration about 60 miles east of Amsterdam moving from one street to let two funeral processions pass. Farmers attending the protest also distributed food and coffee to police officers, the Guardian said.

The nation’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, has meanwhile slammed into protesters, even calling them “holes” in private companies, according to the Guardian.

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“It is not acceptable to create dangerous situations. It is not acceptable to intimidate officials,” he said last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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