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Dutch Farmers Flex Their Muscle, but Can’t Make a Fist After Government Talks

Victor Westerkamp
Victor resides in the Netherlands and writes about freedom and governmental and social changes to the democratic form of nations.
Published: August 9, 2022
Talks between the government and the Dutch Farmers protestors made little progress on the issue of nitrogen fertilizers.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks to the media after a meeting with representatives of the farmer’s protests in Utrecht on Aug. 5, 2022. The government does not appear to be willing to give in an inch on their plans to cut nitrogen emissions of nitrogen regardless of how farmers who will not be able to meet the lowered standards are affected. (Image: JEROEN JUMELET/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Dutch farmer organizations held talks with the government called “constructive” as they looked to seek a way out of the nitrogen emissions crisis, but some growers were not convinced and have announced tougher actions.

It already took a lot of effort to get the warring parties to the negotiations table as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte chose to only engage with the farmers through his pick as a mediator, former Deputy Prime Minister, and fellow Liberal Party (VVD) comrade Johan Remkes. 

However, multiple agriculturalist protest organizations, especially the most militant group, the Farmers Defense Force (FDF), opted out of talks with Remkes as a mediator, given his reputation as a ruthless crusher of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) mandate protests in his former capacity as Mayor of The Hague.

Horse trade

The breakthrough came when Sjaak van der Tak, Chairman of the largest agricultural umbrella organization, LTO, announced he would sit in with Rutte and Remkes after the Prime Minister personally called him.

Not surprisingly, Remes called the atmosphere during the discussions “constructive.” 

“There was, and there still is a crisis of confidence, which ran deeper than the nitrogen discussion,” Remkes said after the talks, according to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (AD)

“That is because of the accumulation of regulations, the misguided policy on nitrogen, and the failure to recognize that farmers have already done a lot to reduce emissions,” Remkes added.

“The atmosphere was extremely constructive, the discussion was good,” he added.


“There is movement, but for our gardeners and ranchers, it is too little at the moment,” van der Tak said sternly, according to AD. “The ball is really in the cabinet’s court, and we expect that the cabinet will pick up that ball and do everything they can to come to a solution.”

But many Dutch commenters didn’t buy into the Remkes-van der Tak love story, pointing out that van der Tak is also part of the old-boys network with Rutte. They feel the pair might well be steering the movement toward a horse trade. 

“Don’t fall for it #Farmers!” one commenter on Twitter remarked. “Sjaak van der Tak will sell out your soul and salvation to his friend Mark Rutte for his own interests,” he said. “Those cons all know each other far too well.”

Flexing muscles

Farmers Defence Force (FDF) frontman Mark van den Oever didn’t have a good word to say about the outcome of the talks either, “When I assess the mood a little bit, I think you can brace for the toughest actions FDF has taken so far,” he said, Hart van Nederland reported.

It was a fine flexing by van den Oever, who represents the more hardline factions of the demonstrating growers. But the quintessence of their argument, however, that there is no nitrogen crisis to begin with, has not yet been brought up by the FDF.

Furthermore, the reputation of the genuine protesters with the public is already on the wane because of ruthless actions some elements took, such as dumping vast amounts of waste and toxins like asbestos on the motorways.

A sinister plan

Some identify these more radical elements as false flag operatives, such as the so-called “Romeos,” notorious for disturbing the peaceful anti-COVID-19 measure demonstrations over the past two years.

“Those farmers themselves know very well what they can and cannot do. Nobody is in favor of throwing asbestos on the highway,” he said, according to the outlet. 

“I think we all agree on that,” van den Oever, who is increasingly finding himself on a sticky wicket about whom to side with: the brassbound demonstrators or the more moderate elements, added.

“But look, it’s also our constituency, of course, so we’re not going to attack them,” van den Oever continued, which some pundits felt created the perfect excuse to have him fall from grace in the eyes of the general public by not vehemently denouncing the asbestos dumping.

It seems Rutte and Remkes have managed to successfully drive a wedge between different factions of the farmers’ resistance movement, and thus some feel the pair are on schedule with their nitrogen reform plans.

According to Dutch MP Thierry Baudet, those plans are a mere shameless land grabbing scheme to disown farmers and destroy the country’s agricultural industry in favor of creating huge housing barracks for refugees.