No supermarket distribution blockades among farmers' protest plans

Farmers protest on Malieveld in The Hague, 1 October 2019
Farmers protest on Malieveld in The Hague, 1 October 2019Photo: NL Times

Protesting farmers will not block supermarkets' distribution centers on Wednesday, the lawyer representing action group Farmers Defense Force (FDF) promised in court on Monday in summary proceedings filed by supermarket chains' organization CBL. According to the lawyer, the FDF never planned to block distribution centers and cause supermarkets to have empty shelves the week before Christmas, NOS reports.

The FDF announced last week that it is planning protest actions for Wednesday, December 18th, but did not say exactly what the actions would entail. But there were indications that the actions would include a blockade of supermarket distribution centers, with explicit reference to Albert Heijn. CBL therefore filed summary proceedings in an attempt to ban this action.

But the FDF lawyer called rumors of this blockade "fake news", saying that farmers had no such intentions. A leaked comment about shutting down the food supply included a smiley-face, the lawyer said. According to him, that proved it was a joke and not a serious threat. 

On Monday morning representatives of various farmers' organizations had breakfast with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Carola Schouten of Agriculture. Afterwards all parties involved called it a "good conversation" in which several aspects of the nitrogen problem was discussed, but would not say much more, according to NOS. 

Minister Schouten told the broadcaster that the farmers themselves presented alternatives to the government's plans to reduce nitrogen emissions. "We went through it meticulously and we said what we can do as a cabinet. We have come closer together in many areas," she said.

Aalt Dijkhuizen of Landbouwcollectief told the broadcaster that "a good foundation" has been laid. "There is an agreement in the making." The farmers' organizations will discuss what was said at breakfast with their members and supporters and decide on whether to continue with the actions planned for Wednesday.