The ongoing farmer protests in the Netherlands have escalated. At the blocking of a freeway entrance, police officers felt so threatened by the approaching tractors that they fired warning shots and well-aimed shots. Meanwhile, the protests continue.

The ongoing farmer protests in the Netherlands have escalated. Late on Tuesday evening, there was an incident in which shots were fired in the town of Heerenveen in Friesland. According to media reports, protesting farmers tried to use tractors to break through the police barrier at a freeway entrance and then blocked freeway 32. The officers then fired warning shots and also aimed shots. In view of the events, the parliamentary party BoerBurgerBeweging (“Peasant Citizens Movement”, BBB) is pushing for an urgent debate with Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD).

According to the police, tractor drivers drove towards police officers and patrol vehicles at around 10:40 p.m. at the Mercurius ramp to the A 32. According to the information, the officials rated the situation as so threatening that they fired warning shots and later also targeted shots. According to police, a tractor was hit. Photos of the bullet hole are circulating on social media. As a result, nobody was injured. The police arrested three suspects. The Reich Police Department has launched an investigation into the shots fired.

Peasant protests: “Warning for some time”

A situation that justifies the use of firearms does not initially appear to be confirmed by video recordings distributed via social media. Also shown are images of Dutch police threatening tractor drivers at gunpoint (verified by Stern). “Online we only see some of the pictures and the situation cannot be assessed,” said Interior Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius (VVD) via Twitter. Speculation would not help. It is important to wait for the results of the investigations by the Reich Police. The scene of the incident was cordoned off for the duration of the investigation.

“I have been warning of escalating protests for some time,” wrote BBB MP Caroline van der Plas on Tuesday evening. “It’s going wrong, I said last week. And it’s going wrong.” Van der Plas, the only representative of her party in the Dutch parliament, wants to discuss the events – supported by the national conservative FVD – in an urgent debate this Wednesday. As it is said, the coalition parties (VVD, D66, CDA and ChristieUnie) apparently see no reason for this after the farmers’ protests were debated for hours just last week. The chairman of the police union ACP, Wim Groeneweg, unlike van der Plas, does not believe that the shooting in Heerenveen will escalate further. Groeneweg assumes a “random event” and warned in the newspaper “De Volkskrant” to be prudent: “The police are made up of very well-trained people who really don’t just shoot.”

Aldi distribution center and Groningen Airport are blocked

Meanwhile, the protests continue. In Drachten, north of Heerenveen, tractors and agricultural machinery blocked a distribution center of the Aldi discount chain, just like the day before. It is said that it is unknown how long the blockade will last. Demonstrators also formed at Groningen Airport. According to the city’s mayor, the farmers have agreed not to block the runway – however, according to the airport operator, no commercial flights are planned for Wednesday. The accident helicopter stationed at the airport should not be obstructed either. “The farmers have signaled that everything will go well and we trust that,” said Mayor Marcel Thijsen.

The sometimes vehement protests were triggered by new requirements to reduce nitrogen emissions. This has been too high in the agricultural country of the Netherlands for decades. According to a decision by the highest court in 2019, the nitrogen standards can no longer be exceeded. By 2030, emissions are to be reduced by 50 percent, and by as much as 70 percent in the vicinity of nature reserves. According to estimates, this could lead to the end of up to 30 percent of all cattle farms.

As a result of the farmers’ protests, the vegetable shelves in many supermarkets in the Netherlands have remained largely empty for a few days. This Wednesday, 2,500 farmers want to present the Green Farmers Plan, which offers all farmers a perspective. “Farmers can make a good income with less nitrogen and no fertilizer,” said a spokesman.

Sources: Dutch police, “De Volkskrant”, “Allgemeen Dagblad”, Twitter account Carolina van der Plas, Twitter account Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius, DPA news agency