Flemish farmers to disrupt traffic tonight in protest of nitrogen policy

Flemish farmers to disrupt traffic tonight in protest of nitrogen policy
A farmers protest. Credit: Landbouwleven

Following the farmers' demonstrations in the Netherlands, farmers from all over Flanders will also take to the streets to protest against the authorities' nitrogen policy from 20:00 on Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, the Dutch Government approved an agreement that aims to reduce nitrogen emissions by up to 70% in some regions, making agriculture and holding cattle impossible – meaning many companies will have to downsize or disappear.

"We want to show our colleagues in the Netherlands that they are not alone after the approval of the nitrogen agreement in the Dutch Parliament yesterday. For us too, such an unliveable agreement is on the way and we want to wake up the citizens," said Danny Hereijgers of the Stuurgroep Vennengebied in a press release.

From 20:00, farmers from all over Flanders will demonstrate on meadows and bridges over various motorways. In the province of Antwerp, they will be demonstrating on the E19 and E34 motorways to support their colleagues in the Netherlands and inform citizens about the consequences for them of the agreement in Belgium.

Lower quality, higher prices

"Belgian agriculture has one of the strictest food safety laws in the world. People should realise that they are opening the door to lower quality food, while the price will go up. And with the current inflation, I do not think anyone is waiting for even higher food prices," said Hereijgers.

He said that it is difficult to estimate exactly how many farmers will participate, but made it clear that while demonstrations are expected in all Flemish provinces, the protest's centre of gravity will be in Antwerp.

The organisers issued an explicit call to keep the actions light-hearted and to limit the inconvenience to other road users as much as possible. Blocking roads or driving tractors on the motorway, as happened in the Netherlands, is not the intention, said Hereijgers.

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"We have asked everyone to limit the inconvenience for casual passers-by as much as possible, although you cannot eliminate it completely when we drive to the locations," said his colleague Ton Van Limpt.

"We do try to spread out over as many locations as possible along the E19 and E34 motorway, so that we do not block the entire road. That way, a flow of the road is guaranteed."

The agricultural associations Boerenbond and Algemeen Boerensyndicaat are not involved in the action, and stated that the hope that the demonstration will be "civilised."

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