The Dutch agriculture minister has resigned after a massive farmer uprising in response to new climate goals that would shut down 11,200 farms.
Henk Staghouwer held the position for only nine months before announcing his departure on Twitter.
He told reporters that he isn’t the right person for the job, MSN reports.
Staghouwer had just returned from Brussels, where he negotiated an agreement with the European Commission to scrap a Dutch exemption to manure spreading limits.
The Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland and the Flanders region of Belgium are allowed by the European Union to exceed caps on how much manure farmers can use their fields. The exemption is partly due to the country’s small land mass, according to MSN.
But, Brussels wants to phase out the exception because the Netherlands has failed to meet EU water quality standards.
Staghouwer was tasked with transitioning the sector away from farming practices and buying out farmers to reduce emissions.
In June, the Dutch cabinet announced plans to slash nitrogen emissions by 50% – rising to 70% in some areas – by 2030 as per EU regulations on nitrate pollution. The policy would force many livestock farms to close.
In response, Dutch farmers took to the streets for weeks to protest the policies. Farmers lit massive hay bale fires and smeared piles of manure along roads. Their actions led to a complete shutdown of several major highways and required the work of firefighters and government contractors to resolve.
At one point, up to 20 food distribution centres were blocked by trucks and tractors today, including those in Nieuwegein, Drachten, Heerenveen, Zwolle, Veghel, Breda, Beilen, Woerden, Nijkerk, and Geldermalsen.
Eventually, heavily armoured Dutch police officers began arresting farmers protesting the government and blockading roads.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte responded by calling nationwide farmer protests as “small” and “unacceptable” — echoing comments from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who made similar claims about the unvaccinated.
Yet, Rutte called his minister’s decision to quit a“brave decision.”
“Much appreciation for the work Henk Staghouwer has done as Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality,” he wrote on Twitter.
Staghouwer’s role will temporarily be taken on by former Dutch agricultural minister Carola Schouten.