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The Fury Of European Farmers Is Terrifying The Elites

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Europe’s farmers are rising up – and the elites are terrified.

In France, farmers recently staged a four-day ‘siege of Paris’, blocking major roads around the French capital. In January, thousands of tractors descended on Berlin in Germany, lining the streets leading up to the Brandenburg Gate. [emphasis, links added]

In Brussels, farmers have gathered from all over Europe to demonstrate against the EU and pelt the European Parliament with eggs. In the Netherlands, tractors have caused the longest traffic jam in the nation’s history, as part of a years-long battle between farmers and the government.

This farmers’ revolt is now truly Europe-wide. From Portugal to Poland, from Ireland to Italy, almost every EU country has been rocked by protests. So what is driving this populist uprising? What do the farmers want?

Farmers in each country have their own specific grievances, of course. But there is a common root to their anger. What connects them is the European Union’s green agenda, which has been imposed on agriculture from on-high.

It has made farmers’ lives a misery, sacrificing their livelihoods at the altar of climate alarmism. Bureaucrats who have no idea how farmers work and live have essentially been condemning farms – many of them run by families for generations – to oblivion, all at the stroke of the regulator’s pen.

And farmers are simply not putting up with it anymore.

The first stirrings of revolt began in 2019, in the Netherlands, with the so-called nitrogen crisis. The Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the government was failing to cut nitrogen pollution to EU-approved levels. In response, the Dutch government promised ‘drastic measures’ to cut nitrogen emissions.

In all but name, it declared war on its nation’s farmers. Suddenly, the government had turned against one of its most important and impressive sectors.

You see, the Netherlands, despite its small size, is the second-largest exporter of food in the entire world, thanks to the world-beating efficiency of its farms. And nitrogen is intrinsic to this efficiency.

Fertilizers are rich in nitrogen, and farmers need fertilizers to maximize their crop yields. Nitrogen is also an inevitable byproduct of animal farming. Livestock release ammonia, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, through their excrement.

The Netherlands has over four million cows, 13 million pigs, and 104 million chickens. Which is a lot of manure and a lot of nitrogen. Any crackdown on nitrogen emissions was always going to hit farmers hardest.

Even so, the Dutch government’s proposals went even further than anyone could have imagined. It said it would buy out thousands of the most polluting farms and simply shut them down.

Other farms would have to cull a proportion of their animals. This would mean slaughtering around half of all the livestock in the Netherlands. In all, this represented an unthinkable act of national economic self-harm.

Thus, the farmers’ revolt was born. Huge protests erupted in 2019. After a brief hiatus during the Covid pandemic, they came roaring back in 2021 and 2022.

Dutch farmers blocked roads, railways, and canal bridges with tractors and hay bales. They defied government bans to bring tractors into the Hague. Tens of thousands took part in the demonstrations.

But the Dutch government did not back down. It kept proposing new targets, new measures, and new restrictions on nitrogen.

In 2022, the government’s own figures revealed that around 30 percent of farms would have to close to meet their targets. And last year, it drew up a list of the 3,000 farms that it wants to forcibly close within the next few years.

All of this has been done with the approval and encouragement of the EU. And there is worse to come in the Netherlands and beyond. The absurd nitrogen rules that are threatening Dutch farms come from an EU environmental directive that dates back to the 1990s. But the EU’s eco-mania has intensified massively since then.

Farmers now have to contend with the drive to Net Zero, too. According to Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation and the architect of the Paris Climate Accords, Net Zero will require ‘the biggest overhaul of farming since the Second World War’.

And yet, once again, farmers haven’t been consulted on this. Targets have simply been drawn up by the technocrats and rubber-stamped by national governments, without [considering] their impact on farmers and their ability to produce food.

Under the EU’s so-called Green Deal, every EU member state has to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. And the EU’s emissions rules for agriculture are especially insanely stringent.

The punishing green policies don’t stop there, either. The Farm to Fork strategy, announced in 2020, calls for 10 percent of farmland to be set aside for non-agricultural use.

It says that at least a quarter of EU farms should become organic. It says fertilizer use must fall by 20 percent. Pesticide use must be cut by 50 percent. And all of this should be done by 2030.

Each of these demands would be enough to put thousands of farms out of business on their own. When combined, they pose an existential threat to European agriculture.

And if the EU’s laws weren’t bad enough, member states are gold-plating these regulations. The EU had already demanded the impossible of farmers. Now national elites in Berlin, Paris, and The Hague want to go even further.

This is why farmers are out on the streets across the continent. It’s why they’re taking matters into their own hands. It’s why they feel they have no choice but to block roads with their tractors, bring life to a standstill, and dowse public buildings with manure.

They are determined to remind the powers that be just how essential they are to the functioning of modern life.

At first, the elites tried to dismiss the protests. They resorted to their usual playbook. They called the farmers fascists, far-right, and pawns of online disinformation.

But this propaganda campaign has flopped. Not only have these smears failed to demoralize the farmers, but they have also failed to turn the public against the protests. In country after country, European people are backing their farmers, even as the protests disrupt daily life.

Read rest at spiked

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