Not easy being green: Rutte’s eco-friendly agenda falters amid Dutch farmer backlash

The Dutch government is losing the battle to reduce its agricultural emissions, highlighting just how hard it is to square its green ambitions with their potential economic impacts.

On Monday, the country’s Agriculture Minister Henk Staghouwer resigned just hours after agreeing with the European Commission to end an EU exemption that enabled Dutch farmers to continue spreading more manure on their fields than other EU countries.

The end of this derogation comes as Mark Rutte’s government tries to push through its wider plan for reducing emissions of nitrogen, which evaporates from manure. Excessive nitrogen emissions can hurt the environment and pollute waterways, but farmers fear the measures, which will reduce the amount of fertilizer they can use, will destroy their livelihoods. …

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