In the Netherlands: Speaking up for farms and freedom
Dutch political commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek spoke to R-CALF USA convention attendees on Aug. 18 in Rapid City, S.D., encouraging U.S. farmers and ranchers to be grateful for their freedoms and watchful of governmental overreach. Many people in the Netherlands have strong cultural ties to agriculture, and while Vlaardingerbroek did not grow up on a farm, her great-grandfather was a farmer. When she became aware of the plight of farmers in the Netherlands being told to surrender their farms to the government, she decided that she had to speak up.
“My involvement in this issue happened somewhat organically,” Vlaardingerbroek said. “I’m a lawyer, and from a legal standpoint it sparked my interest — taking someone’s farm is a direct attack on their property rights. And if the government goes after the farmers, people will starve.”
Vlaardingerbroek said that she believes the attack on Dutch farmers is part of a bigger global agenda for control.
“The globalists’ strategy is to create a crisis and then their solution is for you to give up your rights,” she said.
A 2019 lawsuit against the Dutch government precipitated a “nitrogen crisis” with the government then issuing rules calling for 30% of farms to voluntarily sell their land to the government and quit farming.
“Government rules stipulated a 30% reduction in cattle,” she said. “This would affect around 50,000 farms, 4 million cows and over half of the privately owned farmland in the Netherlands.”
The ensuing protests by Dutch farmers caught Vlaardingerbroek’s attention, as well as making international news.
“In general, people in my country are open to compromise; they are down to earth, sober and not going to stand up, shout, fight or cause scenes,” she said. “Dutch farmers are even more so, and besides that they are too busy working on their farms to have time to leave. If you can get Dutch farmers to start protesting in this very un-Dutch fashion, it’s a big thing.”
In one of the protests, farmers drove their tractors to a warehouse for one of the main supermarkets, parking them to block the entrance for a few hours. Shelves in the store were bare within that amount of time, and Vlaardingerbroek said that some people took the message to heart. Still, she said it is sad how few people realize where their food actually comes from.
“The farmers protesting had less support in our bigger cities. People are so brainwashed by the media that they think farmers are bad,” she said. “The Dutch farmers were badly demoralized by subsequent media attacks. Some farmers are so desperate that they have committed suicide. I am speaking to international media outlets about the situation to try to rouse them.”
Although her country is small, Vlaardingerbroek said that agriculture is their leading industry, and a source of cultural pride.
“The Netherlands is tiny — South Dakota is five times its size — but it is big in farming,” she said. “Farming is such a big part of our national and cultural identity. It is not just the backbone of our economy. We have some of the most productive farm ground in the world. If you look at Dutch art you see farms; everyone knows us for that. We are second only to the U.S. in agricultural exports and the largest exporter of beef in the European Union.”
SUPPORT IN THE US
R-CALF USA came out in support of Dutch farmers in January of 2022. Bullard described how the Netherlands’ mandate is an extension of efforts by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) that enlists global banks, global beef packers, and global retailers to devise and then impose universal production standards and production requirements on animal husbandry in the U.S. and around the world.
Bullard claims the universal production standards and requirements sought by the GRSB through private global corporations can have the same force and effect as the Netherlands’ government mandate. He said this is because global corporations now dominate livestock marketing outlets and can condition timely access to those markets on full compliance with GRSB standards.
“Dutch farmers are facing an immediate threat to their livelihoods, liberty and independence,” said Bullard in the official news release. He added, “America’s cattle farmers and ranchers are on the cusp of suffering the same fate, which is why R-CALF USA supports the Dutch farmer-protestors who are fighting on the front line.”
R-CALF USA President Brett Kenzy said the two conditions that make globalization such a threat to the liberty and independence of all citizens are now exemplified in the Netherlands — “runaway government and runaway concentration.”
Tracy Hunt, a Newcastle, Wyo., rancher and retired attorney, said that convenience has become a high standard for many people.
“We need to understand how urbanization has affected people, many of whom get up every day and go about their business and never touch the land,” he said. “So many people in our cities live every day in a resource extracted economy. Most people in this situation would prefer to have the conveniences they are used to and be enslaved than to not have them and have liberty. This is why the story of these Dutch farmers is so important. We need a change in awareness and people need to understand that this is a global attack on farmers.”
Eric Jennings, current president of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, and rancher from the Spearfish, S.D., said that while the climate is likely changing, he does not believe that removing cows from the planet will make a positive impact.
“No doubt the climate is changing, the climate has been changing for eons, ever since the world was developed, but I don’t know that man has had as large of an impact on climate change as some would lead us to believe,” he said. “Mount St. Helens did more environmental damage in a day when it erupted than man could do in years. I’m sure we’re impacting the environment, but I don’t think taking cows off the planet will make a positive impact. It will probably make a negative impact because grazing is part of the natural carbon sequestration cycle.”
Here on the northern plains, and in fact, over much of North America, Jennings said, grasses evolved being grazed.
“If we take the grazers off the grass, our grass won’t be as healthy and our soil won’t be as healthy,” he said. “The grass will continue to take CO2 out of the air but if we don’t have something grazing that grass it will die, rot and then release the carbon into the atmosphere. When grazers nip it off and turn it into high quality protein sources, the whole thing is a cycle. The cows eat the grass, their manure feeds the soil, which provides nutrients to grow healthier grass, and then the cows come along again to eat more grass. If you take one piece out the whole cycle is broken.”
Jennings said that for South Dakota ranchers, raising awareness about the natural, healthy relationship between grazing livestock and the environment “starts in South Dakota.” One way he shares his story is by hosting groups from Spearfish to come out to his ranch where he has the opportunity to show them what it’s really like and spend time talking about agriculture.
“We have a big responsibility here; we have more cows than people,” he said. “I’m going to think that industry associations are incredibly important. We do a lot through the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association to provide training and opportunities for producers and business to learn more about regenerative agriculture and how to tell their stories. We open conversations about marketing opportunities, including a recent event that showcased incentives available to producers through the SDSU (South Dakota State University) /Agspire’s Climate Smart project. Another presentation featured Adams Land & Cattle and Brazen Beef who spoke to producers about their business of buying cattle, retaining ownership through packing, and marketing that beef to environmentally conscious consumers from Chicago and east. They attach carbon credits to the meat. We’re also active through educating our elected officials and lobbying on behalf of producers.”
Jennings said that sharing this story and the integral knowledge gained from living and working with livestock and land is one reason that generational ranching operations are so important.
“We all just want to have sustainable ranches,” he said.
THREAT TO AGRICULTURE
Unfortunately, Jennings said, many times it’s the people with extreme ideas who have the ear of elected officials. Is the U.S. following a similar path to the Netherlands? While it’s hard to imagine that it could ever get to that point, Jennings knows of several groups including the ASPCA and Farm Action who would like to eliminate animal agriculture completely.
“I think there’s certainly a threat there,” he said. “They have over $800 million that they utilize to spread their message. It’s hard to compete against that. We’re doing our best through our industry associations to tell our story. As producers, we tend to think about the need to educate people farther away in metropolitan areas, but truly, we need to start in our backyard. There are people in our area who don’t understand how our cattle help the environment. If I can tell my story to them, build a relationship, then they can tell their friends. Eric Jennings may not need to talk to people in New York City or Chicago; Eric Jennings needs to talk to somebody eight miles away in Spearfish.”
Jennings has heard time limits set on “eliminating cattle” in the past.
“We’ve had dates before — remember ‘cattle free by ’93’ — which was a push to remove cattle from public land. Those dates come and go. They won’t accomplish their goals by 2030, but they will go on to another date. We need to stay vigilant and keep telling our story about how ranching fits within the conservation mindset.”
Jennings said that food security is not to be taken lightly.
“People seem to think that we can just eliminate entire segments of our food production and not have to worry about where food comes from,” he said. “We got a dose of what happens when the food supply is interrupted during the shutdowns in 2020.”
Vlaardingerbroek believes that this effort to slash food production — which is also happening in countries such as Ireland, Australia, Canada and the U.S. — is simply a means by which powerful globalists intend to control people.
“Most people will do anything other than starve,” she said. “If you can decide what people can eat and when they can eat, you can control them. I can foresee scenes when people lose their minds, act like animals, and then of course the state will have to ‘rescue’ us by declaring martial law and rationing food through digital food stamps.”
Vlaardingerbroek said that the timeline for reducing cattle and farms in the Netherlands is directly related to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, part of the 2030 Agenda adopted by the U.N. in 2015.
“On the surface, these goals sound like good things,” she said. “Who is against things like ending hunger and poverty, and ensuring education and equality? But when you take a closer look at how that can happen, it is only if they take away our liberty and rights. It’s not really about equality; it’s communism hiding behind pretty words. The globalists are just copying and pasting from Stalin.”
Tracy Hunt encouraged American farmers and ranchers to stand with the Dutch farmers.
“The ‘climate crisis’ is a patent fraud designed to transfer the beneficial aspects of land ownership from hard working, caring land stewards to global power interests,” he said. “One need only look to countries like Eva’s Netherlands or to Ireland to see where the perpetrators of this fraud intend to take farmers and ranchers in the United States.”
Vlaardingerbroek said that U.S. farmers and ranchers need to stand strong and stand together.
“It can happen here, and it is up to you to hold the line,” she said. “The globalist agenda is definitely not a short term thing. If they don’t achieve their goals by 2030, they may bump the date back, but they will not give up.”
Farmers in the Netherlands stood up to protest when they felt they had nothing left to lose.
“Don’t let it get that far,” Vlaardingerbroek said. “I am not a farmer, but I sure as hell am proud of you.”