Dutch farmers blocked supermarket distribution centers in several cities on Monday to protest against government plans that may require them to use less fertilizer and reduce their farm animals.
The farmers also blocked roads. Several traffic jams were reported on highways in the east of the country and on ferry routes in the north.
Last month, the Dutch government introduced targets to reduce harmful nitrogen compounds by 2030. The government said that reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from farm animal feces and from ammonia in fertilizer is necessary, adding that a 30% reduction in farm animals is needed.
NOx included two gases: nitric oxide (NO), which is a colourless, odourless gas and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is a reddish-brown gas with a strong odour. NOx pollution occurs when nitrogen oxides are released as a gas into the atmosphere.
High-intensity farming of pigs, cows, chickens and other animals has made the Netherlands Europe’s leading emitter of nitrogen oxides. European and Dutch courts have ordered the Dutch government to address the problem.
Farmers are angered because they feel they’ve been unfairly singled out and criticized the government’s approach. Farmers’ groups supported the protest on Monday, but the actions were not centrally organized. Previous protests have included demonstrations on highways and outside the homes of politicians and lawmakers.