EU Endorses Dutch Plan To Force Farm Closures

The European Union has approved a Dutch government scheme aimed at closing 3,000 farms and permanently banning their owners from operating elsewhere in the EU. The European Commission officially backed Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s plan to buy the land owned by thousands of Dutch farmers to meet the EU’s ambitious climate goals.

While supporters argue that the scheme will improve environmental conditions and promote a more sustainable livestock sector, critics contend that it violates the fundamental property rights of farmers. Dairy, pig, and poultry farmers will be offered what the government determines to be the value of their farm to shut down operations. If farmers accept the “voluntary” buyout, they could receive up to 120% of the value of their business but must agree not to start another farm in the Netherlands or within the EU.

The Dutch government aims to target farms that emit the most nitrogen to purchase and shut down 2,000 to 3,000 farms. If not enough owners voluntarily sell, the government is prepared to move on to “compulsory purchases” to meet its EU climate targets. The scheme is expected to cost the Dutch government approximately 1.4 billion euros, part of a larger €25 billion effort to reduce nitrogen emissions.

Dutch Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal has previously described the voluntary offers as “wildly attractive” and claimed that “no better offer” would be forthcoming.

However, Dutch commentator and freedom advocate Eva Vlaardingerbroek has criticized the government and the EU, accusing them of holding “a knife to the farmers’ throats” and offering a “bribe” that they will feel pressured to accept “out of pure desperation.”

Vlaardingerbroek also questioned the legality of prohibiting farmers from moving and restarting their businesses elsewhere in the EU. “I also highly doubt that prohibiting them from starting over elsewhere in the EU is even legal. The whole idea of the EU was supposed to be about freedom of movement and freedom of workers. This is some next-level USSR stuff,” she said.

The Dutch ruling coalition aims to cut nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions by 50% nationwide by 2030. However, it is still being determined how much of that target will be met using the EU-approved funds.

Farmers have held several large demonstrations, blocking highways and supermarket warehouses last year to protest the reforms they see as threatening their way of life. The demonstrations have even spread to neighboring Belgium. Hundreds of farmers drove their tractors into downtown Brussels last month to protest the agenda claiming to combat climate change.