HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS –– The Netherlands is a patchwork of quaint towns and cities interwoven with flat expanses of immaculately-kept green agricultural pasture. The road and rail infrastructure are near-flawless. You could search for weeks without finding a pothole. It is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and makes some of the best steak, cheese, yogurt and milk on the planet. The land is fertile, valuable, and strategically located with easy access to the north Atlantic coast. So, for these reasons and more, legions of committees composed of unelected, largely unknown figures serving on the boards of an interwoven network of even lesser known private and multilateral bodies, insists on seizing it all, on account of saving the planet from its deadliest enemy: man himself. Their target: the Dutch farmer. “They are slowly killing us with regulation,” one farmer told The Grayzone. It is death by a thousand paper-cuts, or The Art of War by the modern technocrat.
First, some background: Holland exports the most food on earth, behind only America, on a landmass roughly the size of Indiana. Farmers the world over come to study Dutch techniques. The country embraces what’s known as the Mansholt theory—a philosophy of ensuring food security and self-sufficiency that emerged from the second world war as a response to Nazi-imposed famine. To stave-off a similar tragedy, Dutch agriculture embraces the Haber-Bosch process, a method of infusing fertilizer with nitrogen to increase yield efficiency. Invented in the early 1900s by a pair of Nobel Prize-winning chemists, Haber-Bosch is responsible for the existence of half the world’s population today (and is known in Malthusian circles as “the detonator of the population explosion”), thanks to its ability to grow more food on less land.
But now global bodies like the World Bank’s “Climate Smart Agriculture” program, the UN’s “protected area initiatives,” the European Commission and armies of well-funded NGO’s are executing a wholly-comprehensive platform targeting Dutch farmers — restricting both organic and artificial fertilizer use — while asserting “biodiversity protection” as the pretext for snatching land from the productive.
Dutch farmers, in protest, have driven tractors to the Hague, tossed flaming trash onto the roads and sprayed manure across government buildings.
It’s worth reemphasizing that the Dutch government is carrying out the same radical experiment conducted in Sri Lanka earlier this year — eliminating nitrogen-based fertilizer, the basis of modern survival. In the southeast Asian country, it led to a famine that toppled the government. The Sri Lankan “disaster” fronted a simple premise: replace something with nothing. And to eliminate Russian gas from the geopolitical scene. The Colombo declaration, signed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2019, celebrated the end of food security and sovereignty, offering in its place a model for import-dependency and agricultural destruction now being imposed on the Dutch.
“They are sweeping the culture from the land,” says Sieta Van Keimpema, a sturdy 6-foot Dutchwoman in her 50s with short, wavy black hair. She is head of the European Milk Board, and leader of the Dutch farmers’ de-facto political arm, Farmer’s Defense Force (FDF).
“Our government has made laws and laws that put us in a corner that you cannot come back from,” she says. “If people cannot put food on the table you get riots. You get an unstable society. I don’t see the benefits to this.” Her group, Farmer’s Defense Force, is characterized as vigilante populist heroes by some; and as troublemakers responsible for sparking the protests by others. FDF originated after environmental activists, Meat the Victims, forcefully occupied a pig farm in a small Dutch town in 2019. Instead of taking action, police sent in negotiators, prolonging the ordeal. FDF subsequently created a “Bat Signal” whereby farmers can call on a special WhatsApp group to rally others to come to the rescue.
When they aren’t producing food, members can be found battling Brussels or butting heads in the Hague. “We have a government spending 25 billion euros to reduce agricultural production,” Sieta says, confirming official policy. According to heavily-redacted European Commission documents, the goal is “terminating farms” through overregulation, deploying mandatory buyouts if necessary.
Official justifications are not up for debate. Take some of the most insulting regulations, made in the name of “flood prevention,” a puzzle the Dutch have solved since the country’s inception, erecting dykes, walls, levies and canals to build a civilization out of the oceans (as half of Holland lies below sea-level). In its green manifesto, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency preaches that “more radical policies are needed, particularly for flood protection…The main emphasis is on the planet dimension…a Netherlands that is more sustainable and Future-Proof.” Accordingly, some computer models predict “with 80% certainty” a sea-level rise of 20 meters within the next century, after having risen 2 cm across the last one.
A related justification is that nitrogen leakage caused by agriculture makes Dutch tap water undrinkable, and so farming must be eliminated. The reality is that Holland’s tap water was awarded second best on the continent by the European Water Awards; behind Austria, in a debatable placement. Dutch drinking water is so crisp and clean, it almost makes Evian taste like toilet sludge. The real problem: Holland is 50% composed of mostly independently-owned agricultural operations, and they occupy prime real-estate.
The Dutch environmental report further seems to justify what many have been speculating: “The inflow of foreign migrants [caused in no small part by U.S. wars] feeds the need for expansion,” calling for the elimination of 300,000 hectares of farmland between now and 2040. This will be initiated by “the conversion of agricultural land into nature conservation areas,” without irony. Additionally, rich people need second homes, since “it is assumed that families with a high income will opt to live in green areas. Dutch households display a marked preference for single-family homes with a garden. The Dutch concept of the ideal home will shift, possibly in the direction of ‘gated communities’, [and] more second home ownership.”
To nobody’s surprise, housing developers subsidized by the government and working with the Society for Preservation of Nature Monuments in the Netherlands, have already begun to erect houses in “protected areas,” on lands wrested from farmers.
In the Netherlands around 800,000 people work in agriculture. “If you reduce half the sector there’s not critical mass anymore to continue,” Sieta explains. “The big dairies need a certain amount of milk to have a viable cost price…I think we are the only country in the world that has a minister of nitrogen—who really doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She admitted ‘I really don’t know what I’m saying.” I say, go home, because what she’s doing is destroying a whole sector.”
Meanwhile, many farmers have reached consensus about the forces they believe to be behind the attack on their livelihoods.
“Left-wing parties like Democrats 66,” which promises, “we’ll be working towards reducing the cattle population by half,” “are very close to Klaus Schwab,” Sieta says. “They go to Davos and don’t deny it. It’s a fact that the WEF [World Economic Forum/Davos Group] is pushing legislation that isn’t decided in a democratic way. If you comment on that, as I did in the meeting, the civil servants get really aggressive. The Netherlands is pushing legislation that has never been discussed in the parliament.” Mention that the air is comprised of 85% nitrogen, and you’re slammed as a “climate denier.”
“The D for democracy has become dictation. They have no shame,” Sieta says. “The government has given an enormous subsidy to artificial meat; lab meat, and they’re calling it ‘future food.’ But I’m not going to eat insects. I’m going to eat beef and chicken.” The bottom line, according to Sieta: “They produce hot air, we produce food on the table…They don’t want innovation, they want buyouts.”
Indeed, Holland’s world-famous agricultural innovation hub, Wageningen University, the Stanford /Silicon Valley of farming, has ceased developing techniques that help farmers. Instead they’re now focused on producing bugs for human consumption. The World Economic Forum promote this agenda with ads featuring Hollywood stars like Nicole Kidman chomping down on a bowl of crickets, putting an Aussie-accented celebrity glow on a grim and deeply disturbing future.
“The farmers have seen what is happening with the World Economic Forum, with Bill Gates, etc…that’s why they are so active,” Sieta adds. “They know that what they are fighting is a very strong lobby of multinationals who really want to control food. After the war we decided we should never have hunger again, to produce as much food as possible and to use nitrogen and fertilizer to do it. But now they are pushing an agenda very similar to what Hitler wanted. If you control food then you control everything.”
The Dutch government has teamed up with pools of private capital and NGOs linked to international institutions to mobilize over $25 billion to terminate Dutch farmers. One group in particular strikes fear into the heart of farmers: the relentless, racketeering eco-lobby, “MOBilization for the Environment,” known as MOB.
“We have MOB. When we go to court we lose because of legislation; the provinces will fight the MOB. MOB is fighting the provinces,” Sieta says. “It all started in may 2019 when the court decided our program for nitrogen was not good. They made us guinea pigs, like in Sri Lanka.”
MOB has a superpower: to sniff-out any leeway that a Dutch provincial government may be offering to a farmer to aid in his survival, and to sue that government into imposing more rules, harsher restrictions, tighter regulations until his existence is terminated.
Mainline Dutch media called MOB’s leader, Johan Vollenbroek, “the most hated man in the Netherlands by some.” And on the group’s dominance over recent nitrogen negations: “MOB is of course not in charge; the cabinet will eventually have to make the decision. But MOB and a number of other nature organizations do have an important means of pressure: lawsuits. In recent years they have carried hundreds of them and very often the judges proved them right.”
MOB’s mandate runs from the petty — they’ll sue to reject a single farm’s grazing application — to the grandiose, setting new and major national legal precedents, like revamping the country’s entire nitrogen program in 2019. Governments fear them. Farmers cannot stop them. And this is how Vollenbroek supposedly spends his retirement. Of course he is likely an agent of those who wrote the treaties to begin with.
While Vollenbroek applauds the fact that five Dutch farms are destroyed each day, he also argues that more work is needed to be done. Vollenbroek receives death threats and lives most of the time in France, according to reports. Dutch royalty, the Order of Orange-Nassau, has even knighted Vollenbroek for his efforts against farming. He is not a lawyer. Nor an activist. He is a corporate chemical engineer and somehow a treaty expert who consults EU nations on how to override their own laws in obedience to a galaxy of global treaties written over three decades ago at the 1991 Rio Earth Summit. Every country has its own versions of such groups built-into the framework of the global system: inside-experts posing as environmentalists to enforce or extend vaguely-written treaties for the sake of opportunistic exploitation, fulfilling geopolitical goals and long-term plans. But in Holland, MOB has a track record for setting anti-farming precedents that stick.
As Vollenbroek stated, “Once you’ve concluded a treaty, you can’t just break it open and negotiate again…The livestock population simply has to be drastically reduced, a large number of farmers have to stop … There is no alternative.”
MOB is responsible for revoking thousands of Dutch farming permits in court. According to part of MOB’s lengthly mission statement/public manifesto, translated from Dutch:
“I am ashamed to be Dutch. Time is running out, especially for the people of the rich countries, to open their eyes to a disturbing truth: we have colonized the future. The Netherlands has become a developing country in terms of environmental sustainability. The pariah of Europe.”
It is on this basis that MOB has singled out farmers as the main source of the nation’s supposed environmental problems. They have been ringing this same alarm bell for thirty years now, ever since the group was founded in the early 1990s. And yet somehow, the Netherlands still stands.
Johan/Paula: “They’ve left us with no room to move into the future”
From an environmental perspective, no country on earth could be less environmentally menacing than Holland.
Near the Dutch town of Emmen, along the German border, Johan and his wife Paula struggle to survive as 5th generation dairy farmers. “Milk runs through my veins,” Johan says, standing with his hands on his hips, smoking a hand-rolled cigarette out back behind his shabby house. “Home is where the cows are.” Yet Johan’s down-home wisdom and minimalistic way of life are being eradicated, as his wife, Paula, chimes in: “They are slowly killing us with more rules and regulations. They’ve left us with no room to move into the future.”
The family plan to flee to Ireland where they perceive climate regulation to be less stringent. Their children, enrolled in agricultural school, will not be able to inherit the family farm as intended. Under a new Dutch law, once you stop farming, you and your entire kin are forever banned from farming in the Netherlands again.
The family is not being offered a buyout because their land falls within a so-called “protected area,” making it illegal to milk cows or perform agricultural activity under the EU/World Bank’s GEF (Global Environmental Facility) Natura 2000 treaty. They are also forbidden from planting corn until late fall, when the crop is no longer viable.
There is a push pull dynamic that offers farmers some breathing room, provided they can pay for it. You can buy carbon and phosphate offset rights, giving the rich a chance to prosper in the new green economy. But “every time they make an allowance, they take it back,” Paula says, pointing to the Dutch government’s recent encouragement of farmers to build specialized, $100,000 mechanical barn floors to separate fecal matter from urine (thus reducing ammonia).
The floor allowance held up briefly, with farmers taking out huge loans to build them. But soon enough, the litigious “MOB came and argued it wasn’t good enough,” Johan says. “They won the court battle. If you pay the MOB enough money they will back off. That’s why they’re called the mob, after all,” he laughs.
The government has already snatched a parcel of his family’s property due to its being within 30 meters of a “protected watershed.” “Soon it’s going to be 40 meters, then 400,” Paula says. “Eventually they will take everything.”
Nelly: “There have been many suicides. People get sick and ill and depressed.”
In the Friesian town of Hoogeveen, resides Nelly, a 73-year-old champion horse-breeder and dairy farmer. She says she is tired of fighting both breast cancer and overregulation. Nelly receives regular “control checks” by bureaucrats visiting her farm up to five times a week, ensuring her withering operation abide by increasingly unrealistic standards. “They check for everything. Ear tags, manure, cows, your yard. Now you need a permit to mow grass between stones, which is totally crazy since it has nothing to do with dairy farming.”
Her farm requires an endless array of new permits just to function, and everything she does is tracked. “The cows have the ear tags and the horses have a transponder under their skin, registered in the system. The government wants to know where everything is, so if a horse has to go to a training stable, we have to put it in the computer so they can see,” she says, pointing to an Excel sheet on her laptop. “They make the rules stronger and stronger. It gets harder and harder to survive.” Soon, Nelly surmises, “we will need a permit to ride our own horses. Things are heading in that direction.” The weeds between boulders in her front yard have grown unwieldy, as Nelly has not yet received her renewed mowing permit for the year.
The irony, of course, as Nelly explains, is that “the government says we need to get rid of the farmers, that we need nature; but if they send the farmers away then it will be one big mess. We do not only milk cows, but we keep our pastures and the forest in good condition. Everything is kept neat by the farmers.”
Nelly’s farm is emptier than usual, due to a new law stating that you can keep no more than 1.5 cows per hectare, an impossibly small number down from four. The regulation favoring large landowners has already cost Nelly a third of her cows.
“We have to sell 17 cows out of 55 and a heifer counts as two,” she says. “We live in the middle of a forest and have only a few hectares out front so we cannot use pasture, but we have loads of land. If we don’t give it up, they take it away from our milking money. They know how to find you.”
The nature of the project is not lost on Nelly. “Holland wants to be the best little boy out of the class,” she says. “We start with this nonsense and the other countries are following. They are now talking about nitrogen, phosphates.”
Simply put, “they just draw a map and say how many cows should go there. You are not allowed to spread manure, even organic. There have been many suicides. People get sick and ill and depressed. What people do not understand is that farming is a way of life.”
Nelly’s farm is deemed insufficient nature by the UN/World Bank’s development plan, its “return to nature” ethos embodied in a program called “re-wilding,” under which it is illegal to harm predators. So, last month, wolves ate four of Nelly’s cows, including one calf, and bit one of her prized filly horses in the leg, forcing Nelly to put it down. Shoot a deadly wolf, go to jail. That’s just the way things go around here.
Jos: “There’s nothing scientific about it whatever.”
Still, other farmers remain defiant. “We will win,” asserts a rangy, 6’7, thirty-something Jos Ubels, standing on his beef cattle ranch in denim overalls, his face and arms covered in dirt and mud and grime. Jos makes no apologies, offering a simple critique of the government’s policies: “It’s hideous, it’s crazy what they’re imposing. There’s nothing logical about it.” Mr. Ubels’ cows live better than many people. They are free to graze in the sun most of the time, before it all ends in one bad day.
As Jos explains, “They don’t want nitrogen because certain specific plants hate nitrogen; they only grow on poor soils, so they want the soil to be poor. And they are saying that the farmers are causing the soil to get richer. So, if you’re farming more effectively than what is allowed, you’re in trouble.”
Official logic is reason inverted: The growth of obscure plants supersedes food production.
The threat posed by nitrogen, a gas that returns to the ground to feed nutrients in the soil, is grossly overstated if not wholly fictitious. As Jos notes: “It’s stupid because nitrogen is actually circular. In farming it’s absorbed back into the soil. But they only take into account the output. And they use flawed computer models to calculate this. There’s nothing scientific about it whatsoever.”
Across the West, as we have seen with wildly inaccurate Covid predictions, flawed computer models have become a stand-in for science, not a supplement to it. But this is about politics, so those on the take are indifferent to reason, let alone to the fate of Dutch agriculture.
“If you have people who live on the government payroll, they don’t have to produce anything,” says Jos. “They can just dream all day about idealistic solutions for problems that don’t exist. If you ask them about real problems, they say it’s not our problem and they don’t have a solution. Everything is the fault of the farmers.”
Compounding the crisis confronting the farmers is a massive, growing fertilizer shortage. “Within 1 or 2 months there will be no fertilizer in Europe,” Jos predicts, “So you can try to buy it but you can’t find any. They are using the last of what they have in store. The price is 100x higher than it used to be. This will create a crisis because the demand is very high and there will be nothing left in stock. We need fertilizer but there is no production and no import because the biggest importer was Russia. There’s not enough gas.”
He adds that the government still buys the very same Russian gas, only these days through middle-men at huge markups on the spot market.
“The WEF [World Economic Forum] is radically trying to change the world,” Jos notes. “And their front man Klaus Schwab says in the end you will own nothing. The funny thing is that he will own everything. The rules they are coming up with are sick. That’s why you see the upside-down flags, it’s a sign of distress. It’s to show the people of the Netherlands don’t support this.”
Unfortunately, it seems the environmental lawyers of the mobilization for the environment (MOB) have the know-how (and funding) to routinely defend anti-farming laws successfully in court.
“Our government made some stupid laws. So for a smart lawyer from MOB, they know how to break down the laws because they are not very well constructed. And they do this on a regular basis. The government already lost four cases against them, and had to invent new laws. So they’re getting scared to fight MOB. When they have a problem, like with farming, they don’t ask the farmers how to solve it. They ask MOB because the farmers do not get high-priced lawyers to fight the law. MOB has a key position because the government is not smart enough.”
The question: how much longer can such an assault go on? “If people are fed you can keep them happy so long as you have a good story,” says Jos. “But if they are getting hungry then the government will lose everything. In the first week, people can’t buy anything; by the 2nd week they start complaining. By the third week they go to the Hague and rip the people out of office. Decades ago we decided as a nation that we want to have good agriculture. Now we have perfect agriculture and they want to shut it down. I think the roads will burn again.”
Despite exceeding previously-set climate goals, the state is imposing even more stringent restrictions on Dutch farmers.
As even OECD admits, “Environmental agreements, which are more or less binding substitutes for regulation, have been successful in a number of areas in the Netherlands;” the European Commission concurring, “Monitoring data show a downward trend in nitrate concentration in groundwater.” Nevertheless, “Implementation of environmental agreements should be accompanied more systematically by transparency mechanisms and the threat of penalties for farmers.” (And its list of demands runs on for hundreds of pages, extending far beyond the scope of nature).
“The farmer shall accept that the fertilizer application and account can be subject to control. Periodic nitrogen and phosphorus analysis in soil shall be performed for each farm. A fertilization account shall be kept for each farmland. It shall be submitted to the competent authority for each calendar year…”
It seems that nothing Dutch farmers can do will be adequate. “We have a million less cows than in 1991 when [the global environmental treaty] Natura 2000 came, because of protected areas [where agriculture is forbidden or restricted],” Sieta says. “We already reduced 70 percent of emissions,” a marked improvement confirmed by OECD as being ‘insufficient.’ “But a lot of politicians want an end to dairy. They say ammonia from animals is the worst thing that can happen.”
So what’s to replace food-production? One more stated plan, far-fetched as it might seem in the midst of Europe’s energy crisis, is to build a new kind of metropolis, a “megacity” encompassing parts of Holland, Germany and Belgium, called the “Tristate-City.”
The Tristate-City website brands the project as “Europe’s new super-city…an organically green network metropol where urban and rural space remain in balance.” Details are sparse, but the planners wholeheartedly promise: “This model has no relation whatsoever with the nitrogen policy of the Dutch government!”
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