FDF threatens to occupy roads all weekend

FDF threatens to occupy roads all weekend
FDF threatens to occupy roads all weekend
Farmers protest on the highway near the border with the Netherlands.Image ANP / ANP

There are blockages on the A4 between Bergen op Zoom and Antwerp and the A67 between Eindhoven and Antwerp. The A16 Antwerp towards Breda has been reopened, but the road towards Antwerp is still closed. Rijkswaterstaat has already closed the highways at a logical point in the Netherlands due to the blockages, so that traffic can still move freely, the spokesperson added.

Rijkswaterstaat advises road users who have to go to Belgium to postpone their trip, if possible. Several border crossings with the Netherlands were closed on Friday morning due to blockades by protesting farmers. There are possibilities to come to Belgium, a spokesperson for Rijkswaterstaat indicates. “But we don’t know how quickly the situation can change.”

Detours can be made via Limburg via the A2 between Maastricht and Liège, the A76 between Stein and Maasmechelen and the Western Scheldt tunnel, the N62. The ANWB warns of a lot of extra travel time. “It can be very annoying, especially for the logistics sectors.”

Farmers Defense Force

Action group Farmers Defense Force (FDF) hopes that willingness to take action among farmers will increase in the coming days and more colleagues will join demonstrations in the country and on roads. A spokesperson confirms to the ANP news agency that the group wants to block the border roads all weekend. This is already happening in the south with the border to Belgium, and actions may also follow in the north and east of the Netherlands.

With the actions, the farmers want to ensure that outgoing Minister of Agriculture Piet Adema in Brussels ‘sends a signal’ to lift measures. For example, according to the FDF spokeswoman, a measure regarding the spreading of manure ensures that ‘farmers cannot dispose of their manure and animals end up with their feet in it because it rises above the slats’.

Adema expects to hold ‘intensive consultations’ with other European agriculture ministers in Brussels this month, following farmers’ protests in several Member States. The outgoing minister believes it is ‘extremely important’ that measures are taken to help farmers. He wants to talk to Dutch farmers and is prepared to put their proposals on the table in Brussels. “The fertilizer market is currently experiencing enormous pressure,” says Adema. “So I would like to discuss with the sector: what measures would be needed to bring relief.”

Contingency plan

In Belgium, there were also massive protests during the day on Thursday against agricultural policy, such as strict environmental regulations, and the abolition of subsidies. According to the police, more than 1,300 tractors were present in Brussels. In the evening the highways were blocked.

The traffic problems caused by the blockade are major. On Friday morning, around 2,000 trucks were stuck in and around the port of Zeebrugge and more are still arriving. Because it is not clear how long the farmers will block the access roads to the port, the provincial disaster plan was announced on Thursday.

Thanks to the contingency plan, stranded drivers can be accommodated. For example, there will be food trucks and additional sanitary facilities will be provided. Trucks still on their way to the port of Zeebrugge are diverted to Ostend airport; another 1,000 trucks can go there.

There are no major actions in the Netherlands for the time being, because hopes are based on a new cabinet. “But if that doesn’t work out well, we will take full action in the Netherlands again and we hope that our Belgian colleagues will come and support us,” said one of the Brabant farmers.

On Thursday evening, about ten hikers also gathered on Dam Square in Amsterdam. The protest signs read, among other things: ‘Climate-conscious farmers, leave us alone.’

The article is in Dutch

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