Harsh EU eco measures forces farmer to pull the plug on his business

The EU has forced a farmer to “pull the plug” on his family’s 90-year-old dairy farm after he was deemed a “peak polluter”. Following a three-year battle with the Dutch government to protect his business, Hans van Wijk will have to demolish his barn to stop him from keeping cattle. The order is part of the government’s attempts to hit EU pollution targets.

Behind the Dutch government’s strict measures

In 2016, environmental activists filed a lawsuit to the EU Court of Justice. They claimed the government had failed to protect the area from nitrogen runoff.

Since then, the Dutch government has set a target of reducing livestock numbers by more than 35 million by 2030.

Mr van Wijk, whose farm is within the EU’s Natura 2000 protected region, shared the devastating moment he closed the old farm on Facebook.

On Friday, he said: “Tonight was the last time we milked our cows. After 90 years, this is it for the organic dairy sector. We aren’t allowed to continue because we were labelled a ‘peak polluter’. We fought for 3 years.”

He added that his company in Friesland, including a new four-year-old barn, will be demolished in June.

The Dutch authorities recently warned it will buy out 3,000 farms polluting the most ammonia and nitrogen oxide unless changes are made. These measures include either cutting livestock numbers, quitting the industry completely, or relocating.

It comes days after thousands of farmers from Flanders in Belgium blocked the roads of Brussels to protest similar measures by their own regional government.

Farmers in the Netherlands are also planning to stage a mass tractor protest outside the Hague in Brussels.

The Dutch Farmers Defence Force and Together For The Netherlands are currently organising a protest in front of the Hague on March 11 between 12.00 pm and 16.00 pm local time.

On a promotional Instagram post, Together For The Netherlands wrote: “This will be one of those days, when your children or grandchildren will ask later, where were you on March 11?”

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Dutch MP Tjeerd de Groot of the D66 region recently told BBC Radio 4 that the warning of farm buyouts was a “plea” for high-polluting farmers to “cooperate on a voluntary base” and accept these “gold-plated” measures.

In June 2022, the Dutch government planned to cut back the number of livestock by more than 35 million.

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