Farmers throughout the northern region of Flanders, Belgium, drove thousands of tractors into the streets of Brussels on Friday to protest the regional government’s plan to limit nitrogen emissions.
Along with the clogged roadways, protestors burned tires, and tractors wielded signs reading “Genocide” and “Proud to be a farmer.”
One farmer, Brendt Beyens told reporters that, “In the future, I want to have the possibility to continue my dad’s farm, but right now I feel like the possibility of that happening is slowly shrinking and getting near impossible.”
Reports have estimated anywhere from 2,700 t0 5,000 tractors were present on the streets. The Flemish government’s nitrogen plan may impact 5,000 direct jobs, and 15,000 jobs indirectly, and agricultural organizations in the region stated that the rules, “will cause a socio-economic carnage,” and have asked for agreements that provide more opportunity for the future of farming.
While livestock, fertilizers, traffic, and construction have all led to levels of nitrogen oxide in the air and water in Belgium and the Netherlands, the planned emission limits are causing a crisis, and farmers have reportedly refused to cooperate with reductions.
»Related: New Dutch emission rules hamstring farmers & threaten food security
Farmers also say that the new laws are not equitable with industrial regulations. One protestor responded to Reuters reporters, saying, “We are all convinced that something should be done about the nitrogen, but agriculture and industry should be treated equally, they shouldn’t just hold the farmer accountable. We should all take care of it, not just the farmer.”
Belgian media has reported that Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon should have the final decision this week.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, farmers have also been fighting government regulations on emissions, that aim to significantly reduce livestock in the country by up to 30 percent.