Hundreds of farmers protest along La Vuelta course in Woudenberg
Several hundred farmers are gathered in Woudenberg for a demonstration of Agractie during the second stage of La Vuelta. Tractors, agricultural vehicles and trucks line the route in a long line and there are many inverted flags, where cyclists will pass through around 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The farmers' action group said on Friday it expected thousands of people and hundreds of tractors on the action area next to the route in Woudenberg. But with the turnout so far, Agractie leader Bart Kemp says he is "satisfied." The action is intended to protest against the nitrogen measures that the Cabinet wants to take. There will be no blockades, Kemp said earlier. A little before 2 a.m., cyclists passed the first farmers' protests in Den Bosch without issue, according to the NOS.
Because the Tour of Spain is also broadcast abroad, English slogans can be read, such as "Save the farmer" and "SOS Dutch Farmers." The latter text has also been laid out in hay bales, so that it is visible from the air. The activists want to send a signal internationally and express their concern.
La Vuelta is broadcast in 130 countries and attracts 100 million viewers, the organization emphasizes. It is "a pity that actions are needed," but "if necessary, we will simply step it up again," according to farmer and one of the organizers Wim Veldhuizen.
In a speech, Kemp praised CDA leader and minister Wopke Hoekstra, who said in the AD on Friday that his party no longer necessarily finds it necessary that the targets for nitrogen reduction are already achieved in 2030, as agreed in the coalition agreement. "Yesterday, Wopke Hoekstra was the first to come out. It took a considerable period of strong insistence to get him to this point. But the egg has been laid and he has said plainly: the critical deposition value (kdw) must be out of the law and we have to start over," Kemp said.
He thinks that within the coalition only D66 still has to change its mind: "I expect that the ChristenUnie and VVD will follow. Wopke has done this deliberately and well prepared, and he realizes that this is in place and he can no longer withdraw it. Whether the Cabinet collapses, D66 will give in," said the farmer foreman.
Hoekstra's statements led to political uproar. The Tweede Kamer will return from recess on Tuesday for a debate on the issue.
Reporting by ANP