‘No Farms, No Food:’ Dutch farmers confront billionaire ‘green’ elite’s food system reset plan
Stavroula Pabst·August 19, 2022
Dutch farmers’ protests offer a preview of the resistance to come as transnational “green” billionaires advance a “reset” of the global food system. The elite agenda threatens to deepen an international cost of living crisis and spark unrest well beyond The Netherlands.Ingrid de Sain is a Dutch farmer who lives in the Northern Holland town of Schellinkhout, where she and her family tend to a 62 acre farm with about 100 dairy cows. Like thousands of fellow citizens in her industry, she now finds herself locked in an existential conflict with her government.
“Farming is in your heart,” de Sain told The Grayzone. “And you don’t want to do something else. You’re a farmer or you’re not.” She says she will oppose any efforts requiring her to give up a farm that guarantees prosperity for future generations of her family.
The Dutch government announced plans to slash nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions in June 2022, enforcing an ambitious agenda in the name of protecting the climate. The imposed reductions could spell devastating consequences for the country’s farming industry and add enormous stress to already chaotic global food supply chains.
Today, the Netherlands is Europe’s top exporter of meat and the second largest agricultural exporter overall in the world, right behind the US. The tiny nation’s agricultural success is the product of its traditional dependence on generously sized farms that use nitrogen-rich fertilizer to produce heavy yields. Such methods were encouraged by the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, which prioritized the growth of cattle lots, incentivized the use of chemical fertilizers, and pushed many smaller family farmers out of operation.
In 2019, a Dutch court order declared that nitrogen-compound fertilizer was a top threat to the climate and biodiversity, and mandated a 70-80% decrease in its use. If implemented in the country, the proposed reductions could destroy a full third of its farming output and eliminate somewhere between 30 and 50% of Dutch livestock. The stage was set for open conflict.
Once the pro-EU coalition government of Dutch PM Mark Rutte took steps to implement the restrictions in June 2022, local farmers responded immediately with ferocious mass protests that have blocked roads, airports, and grocery distribution centers. Since the outbreak of demonstrations, supermarkets shelves have gone empty as the farmers’ cry of “No farms, no food” reverberated nationwide.
The farmers were not only angry with the sweeping emissions mandates, but with the less-than-democratic process through which the policy was handed down. They insist they support efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and complain that bureaucrats have ignored an alternative proposal by the main farmer’s lobby, the Netherlands Agricultural and Horticultural Association, known as the LTO, to reduce nitrogen-oxide output by 40% over the next decade.
Firemen and fishermen are now joining the farmers’ protests, forcing ferry services to shut down. When farmers blockaded streets and highways with their tractors, tow truck drivers showed solidarity by refusing orders to remove them. In a flagrant show of contempt for the ruling establishment, farmers have even dumped manure on government buildings.
State repression of the protests has similarly intensified. Dutch police shot a 16 year old farmer during one demonstration and opened fire on a tractor at another. When not deploying live fire, Dutch security forces have promiscuously teargassed demonstrators, unleashed dogs on crowds, and pummeled demonstrators with truncheons.
A first round of negotiations between the farmers and the government took place on August 5, but the session disappointed farmers’ lobby group, the LTO. According to LTO chairman Sjaak van der Tak, the government in Amsterdam offered “too little” concessions to the farmers during those talks.
As long as the government refuses to budge from its sweeping goals, the crisis shows little sign of abetting. For those facing the loss of family farms and the traditions they represent, there is little to lose by taking to the streets.
But there is more at stake than just the future of agriculture within one nation. When thousands of protestors stormed Sri Lanka’s presidential palace in July and forced the resignation of their leader, the event seemed unrelated to the popular uprising sweeping the Netherlands. Yet as we will see, Sri Lanka’s revolt was partly a response to the same force that sparked the Dutch farmers protests: a corporatized “sustainability” agenda crafted by a billionaire-backed “green” elite with no popular constituency.
From their position within institutions such as the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and a bevy of transnational corporations considered “stakeholders” in this closely-knit network, unelected figures have influenced government policy in supposedly sovereign states across the globe.
While these organizations claim to act in the interest of the planet, they are almost entirely unaccountable to the popular masses who will be most severely impacted by their planned “reset” of the international food system. Having already upended the global supply chains and informal industries that once sustained the developing world with their internationally-prescribed response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the next item on their agenda threatens to exacerbate the economic pain of working people from Amsterdam to Colombo and beyond.
“Everyone in Holland has his flag outside, upside down”Ingrid De Sain, a Dutch farmer, has seen the protest movement she participates in gather support from the Dutch public. Though she recognizes less enthusiasm for the demonstrations among the metropolitan middle class, she takes heart in the multitude of citizens who have adorned their homes and vehicles with upside-down Dutch flags to show support for the farmers.
“Everyone in Holland has his flag outside, upside down,” de Sain explained. “So everyone [on the outside] can see that things are not good in Holland and that we need help.”
The farmers boast the support of 77 percent of Dutch citizens, according to a national poll taken this June. However, the Dutch broadcaster BNR reported that most respondents expressed displeasure with more extreme tactics like felling trees and protesting outside government officials’ homes.
Meanwhile, public support for the farmers’ protests has translated into growing enthusiasm for the farmer’s party, Boer Burger Beweging (BBB). A poll this June indicated that BBB, which currently only holds one seat in parliament, would have gained 18 in an election at the time. (A rumored new party by independent Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, a popular Euroskeptic and top opponent of Rutte, could slow the BBB’s momentum.)
In another sign of public support for the farmers, police officers assigned to repress the strikers eagerly participated in a farmer blockade-turned BBQ, even handing out cookies.
Like Canadian Freedom Trucker convoy that protested vaccine mandates, the Dutch farmers have invited a mix of leftist indifference and scorn, while high-profile right-wing politicians celebrated the protests as a point of nationalist unity. The Farmers Defense Force – the most militant faction of the movement – has welcomed the right-wing support. For their part, the farmers hold views spanning the political spectrum.
And while a wealthy local family has reportedly injected resources into the protests to protect its cattle feed business, the farmers on the front lines insist they are fighting merely to preserve their livelihoods against powerful interests often based outside Dutch borders.
Farmers fear buyouts are a Trojan Horse for land seizuresLike many of her fellow farmers in the Netherlands, Ingrid de Sain sees hypocrisy in her government’s attack on the agricultural sector.
“They know about [the emissions impacts of] planes and industry, yet they only look at the farms” when it comes to new emissions restrictions, says de Sain. She also emphasizes that the targets Amsterdam proposed are simply impossible to reach, and won’t be met “even if all the farmers go away.”
Dutch Farmers Union Spokesman Erik Luiten echoed de Sain when he told GBN News, “Farmers are not convinced emissions cuts will help nature.”
De Sain believes an ulterior motive lies behind the government’s contradictory policy: it wants the farmers’ land to address the country’s severe housing shortage, as the government needs to build 845,000 homes by 2030 to meet expected population needs. There are “17 million people in Holland. They say that we will have in 2040, 30 million people in Holland. So then, the farmers are in their way [of building] houses and industry,” de Sain stated.
The Netherlands’ housing shortage is severe indeed, and Dutch farmers own a significant portion of the country’s land, with [url=https://tradingeconomics.com/netherlands/agricultural-land-percent-of-land-area-wb-data.html#:~:text=Agricultural land (% of land area) in Netherlands was reported,compiled from officially recognized sources.]about 54 percent[/url] as of 2018. Yet these figures do not fully explain the government’s move towards expropriation.
Further, the Dutch government’s stringent regulation of nitrogen emissions has driven housing shortages by forcing residential construction projects to meet difficult environmental standards before building, even shelving 18,000 prospective housing developments in 2019 as nitrogen mitigation expectations tightened. Buying out farmers, therefore, would not necessarily alleviate the housing shortage even if it did free up land.
And as the Irish Farmers Journal illustrated, the land the Dutch government obtains from farmers through buyouts may instead be transformed into nature reserves where building is forbidden.
Suspicions are growing among Dutch farmers that their land could be used for something more novel. A 2021 DutchNews.nl report about the now-proposed cuts stated that farmlands bought out by the government would then be used for “sustainable agriculture” – apparent code for lab-grown meats and other scientifically confected foods.
Dutch government defends plans for “replacing farmers”Rudy Buis, a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality, emphasized to The Grayzone that the buy-outs of farmland would be voluntary “for now,” but stated explicitly that “replacing farmers” was an ultimate objective.
Buis explained that plans for land acquired were up in the air, but that a combination of uses, including nature reserves, housing, and sustainable farming, were all under consideration.
“If the government has the [farmers’] ground it can be used for an extra nature area, or maybe a project for energy, or building houses,” said Buis, who insisted 25 billion euros allotted by the government for the buyout scheme would also establish and normalize sustainable farming practices and reduce the country’s nitrogen emissions via “green investments in innovation.”
“The money is going to buyout voluntary farmers,” the spokesperson explained. “Also for innovation for agriculture, for replacing farmers to make [the farming sector] a more natural way, a more sustainable way.”
When asked what “sustainability” would look like in practice, Buis described the government’s vision as follows: “A farmer… often has 200 or 300 cows, and it’s our ambition to have the farmer making enough money for himself and his family with, well, shall I say, 60 or 70 cows. What that means: we have to pay more for biological food. That means we have to help [farmers] and give them money for sustainable agriculture. So, that’s a process [involving] a lot of parties and organizations and the government. We are working on it now.”
Before agreeing to speak to The Grayzone, the government spokesman Buis demanded to know, “Is this for an alt-right medium or not?”
Regardless of how the Dutch government plans to use the farmland, fears are growing that as one of the world’s largest food exporters, and [url=https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/news/2021/25/the-netherlands-is-the-eu-s-largest-meat-exporter#:~:text=The Netherlands is also the,kg (5 billion euros).]Europe’s largest meat exporter[/url], such a sudden reduction of the country’s agricultural output could wreak havoc on food supply chains at a time of global economic crisis.
The Hague’s policy has left many local farmers suspicious that elite ideology has trumped more prosaic concerns like the social welfare of Dutch citizens.
Dutch farmer protests confront a billionaire-backed “green” eliteThe Dutch farmers’ protest has erupted at the juncture of a global resource crisis and an environmental movement increasingly fueled by the passions – and payments – of the “Davos man.”
Leveraging their influence over elite foundations, multilateral institutions and NGOs, the world’s most powerful financiers have proposed a series of top-down transformations of the global food system that will consolidate and centralize their power, limit agricultural independence, and override millennia of traditional farming practices, all in the name of “sustainability” and protecting the climate.
The Dutch government’s emissions proposals are a perfect example of the trend. While proposed in The Hague, the proposal to cut nitrogen was actually mandated by Brussels, where European bureaucrats largely unknown to the general public declared the farmers’ emissions levels a violation of EU law.
Along with the EU, a web of foreign governments, international governing bodies and global capitalist policy hubs such as the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, have lobbied to define the concept of “sustainability” on their own terms.
The perspective put forward by these billionaire-backed outfits is increasingly advanced by global institutions upholding an almost obsessive focus on an impending climate disaster that can only be averted through a radical transformation of industrial society’s processes.
The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, declared climate change the world’s “single biggest health threat” in 2021. Meanwhile, the United Nations opened an entire webpage dedicated to the #NetZero movement, which “calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about” to prevent climate change. The UN’s 2021 World Economic Forum report called, “Aligning to net zero: How CEOs can get on board with the transition,” declared that “Net zero means collectively cutting net CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and getting to zero by 2050.”
By declaring that meat must be substantially reduced in human diets, these proposals placed farmers squarely in the crosshairs. In 2018, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), for example, tweeted that reducing meat consumption by 50 percent by 2050 “will lead to a healthier life and a healthier planet.”
MORE HERE: https://thegrayzone.com/2022/08/19/farms-food-dutch-farmers-protests-elite/
Thanks to: https://thegrayzone.com