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EU approves scheme to close 3,000 Dutch farms and permanently ban owners from farming elsewhere

Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the European Union approved the Dutch government’s scheme to forcibly shut down 3,000 farms and permanently ban farmers from starting over elsewhere in the EU.

The European Commission in Brussels, the governing branch of the EU, officially backed Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte’s plan to buy out land from thousands of Dutch farmers to meet the EU’s radical climate goals.

Margrethe Vestager, a vice president of the European Commission, stated, “The schemes will improve the environment conditions in those areas, and will promote a more sustainable and environmentally friendly production in the livestock sector, without unduly distorting competition.”

If farmers agree to the initial “voluntary” buyout, they will be offered up to 120% of the value of their business. As a condition of the buyout, the farmers must agree not to open another farm elsewhere in the Netherlands or within the EU.

Dairy, pig, and poultry farmers will be offered 100% of the value of their farm to shut down operations.

The Dutch government plans to offer one-time voluntary buyouts to the farms emitting the most nitrogen with the goal of purchasing and shutting down 2,000 to 3,000 farms. However, if not enough owners voluntarily sell, the Dutch government is prepared to move forward with “compulsory purchases” to meet its EU climate targets.

The scheme is anticipated to cost the Dutch government roughly 1.4 billion euros, part of a larger €25 billion effort to reduce nitrogen emissions.

Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal previously announced that the voluntary offers were “wildly attractive” and that “no better offer” was coming.

Eva Vlaardingerbroek, a Dutch commentator, posted on Twitter in response to the EU approving the scheme, “The EU has given the Dutch government the green light to buy out 3000 #DutchFarmers offering them 120% of the market value, ‘incentivising’ them to sell ‘voluntary’ (if they don’t, they’ll be expropriated later). Oh, and they won’t be allowed to start over elsewhere in the EU.”

Vlaardingerbroek accused the Dutch government and the EU of putting “a knife to the farmers’ throats” by ensuring their licenses are not renewed, paralyzing their businesses with additional regulations, and then offering them a “bribe” that they will feel pressured to accept “out of pure desperation.”

“It’s all so vile,” she stated.

Vlaardingerbroek also commented on the plan’s requirement that farmers cannot move to another location and restart their business.

“I also highly doubt that prohibiting them to start over elsewhere in the EU is even legal. The whole idea of the EU was supposed to be about freedom of movement and freedom of workers. This is some next level USSR stuff,” she added.

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