Currently, the Dutch government is looking to offer buyouts for 3,000 farms in the Netherlands, and if they do not accept, their land will be confiscated The government is offering them 120 percent of the value of their land. A) Do you think that’s a fair offer, and B) Do you think they’re going to fight it?
It’s not fair at all because they have smashed these farmers for years now, and the people are so desperate that many families are crying at the kitchen table every day, and even a couple of farmers committed suicide already. Really, it’s that bad. Our government and also the banks supported a plan to create bigger farms, so the farmers bought the land of their neighbors, and they created huge farms because that was the policy promoted by the government and also by the banks. They wanted the farms to scale up their businesses. And now, suddenly the policy is to make smaller farms. This is also the EU policy. Then, you add nitrogen regulations. These farmers now have these huge farms, which means big debts, huge debts, because they had to invest. And now, the government comes up with the idea that they have this nitrogen problem, and farms need to close or be reduced in size.
10,000 Dutch farmers protest government’s crippling nitrogen emissions target in The Hague
Protesters claim the Dutch government is lying about the extent of the emissions problem in order to grab privately owned land
The banks turn around and say, then your business — because a farm is really a business — is only worth 50 percent compared to yesterday. So these people have huge debts. They are captured in a system that they never asked for. They followed the rules, and now they are pushed in a direction that is really desperate for them.
They don’t know what to do. It’s so difficult. These farms have been running from generation to generation. So, there is a lot of history tied up in these farms, and if you are desperate and don’t know what to do anymore, and you’re facing uncertainty year after year, then the government turns around and says, “OK, we have a way out for you, we have money to give you.” I think a lot of farms will do that, which is a disaster because they are the second-largest producer of food in the world after the United States. The Netherlands is just a tiny country, but we are producing so much food for the rest of the world. That’s a problem because we now have 8 billion people.
So it’s not logical, it’s a disaster, it’s not fair, and I hope there are a lot of farmers who feel supported by the last elections because our Farmar-Citizen movement had a landslide win during the elections of March. And I hope the farmers feel supported and they don’t give up.
Your party has a lot in common with the Farmer-Citizen Party (BBB) party. Yet, at the same time, they likely ate into your party’s voter share.
So what are your thoughts on keeping the interests of your party in mind while also being a party leader that just expressed happiness at another party’s election victory?
Well, it’s not about me. It’s not about me doing the job, it’s not about my political party, it’s just a tool to achieve things. So, I’m very happy with this BBB movement. This is the BBB, the Dutch name for the Farmer-Citizen movement. If they are doing the job, it’s fine with me. If they disrupt the system, that’s good because we have what I call a “party cartel.” It doesn’t matter if you vote for the liberals or for the Greens. They have the same agenda, only small differences on little topics, but our liberals should be classic liberals, and they should support small businesses. But now they vote for the green agenda, the socialist agenda.
Now, this BBB party is disrupting the system, which is very, very good, and I’m so happy with that. So it’s even better because if they want to do the job, if they can do the job, I’m going to do something fun. Because I’ve never done this for me, never.
Could you ever imagine a merger with the BBB or another party?
In the Netherlands, we have 150 seats in the national parliament. And we have 20 political parties, which is crazy. It’s very difficult to create a coalition, and I think this is because we’ve had so many split-offs right now. We don’t have (an election voting) threshold, so for everyone who wants to start a political party, you get some signatures, and then you’re on your way. But I think there should be a point where we have to merge some political parties.
I’m very in favor of that, but it’s also difficult because political leaders have to step over their own ego because they are not the party leader anymore. And that’s the problem with politics. Most politicians make a career out of it, but I think there will be some point when we have to merge.
There are some rumors or claims on social media, and perhaps you can add some clarity. The rumor is that some of these farmers’ land was going to be confiscated for the purpose of building condominiums by rich developers and so on. Is there any truth to this rumor?
We’ve already seen it, and it’s not a rumor, it’s just a fact. They bought the land of a farmer, and they built temporary houses for immigrants on it. This is one year ago, but it’s not even a rumor. Unfortunately, if you had said that two years ago, they would respond to you that you are a conspiracy theorist, but now it’s just fact. And I think that of course they want to have the land and they want to build more houses. That’s why they used also this nitrogen issue, which is really crazy.
Our rules are 4,000 times stronger than in Germany, for example. So we are a European Union nation, but if it comes to making rules, they do whatever they want. But of course, they need the land. Why else would they take it away?
So they’re not going to just convert it to forests, for instance?
No, they’re going to use it as housing and development. As you might have heard, the Netherlands has grown since the 1990s. We had 15 million people then. And now, in 2023, we have 18 million people. So we have grown within 30 years with, well, 20% or something like that.
The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, no?
We are the densest country, yes, in Europe. And that’s why also the European Union is not working. We have the habitat guideline, and it designated 2,000 areas as protected, but that also meant no nitrogen from the farmers should make its way into these areas. However, nitrogen actually helps trees grow, so nitrogen also serves a purpose.
But now we have the EU Nature Restoration Law coming up. And we will vote on that before the summer, in the (EU) parliament; if this law is adopted, our complete country (the Netherlands) will be locked to new development.
We will not be able to build houses anymore, we cannot even build wind turbinesanymore, which is, from my perspective, a good thing. But overall, our country will be closed.
Because we are the most densely populated country in Europe. So that’s why you see that all this one-size-fits-all perspective is wrong, because we are a completely different country than, for example, Finland. Finland is five times bigger than the Netherlands and has four times less population.
Is this not a common trend throughout Europe that green parties or other parties promoting the environment are looking to reduce emissions at the same time they are inviting in tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of immigrants who want to adopt a First World lifestyle? They will demand to eat meat, demand to drive nice cars, even Erdoğan encouraged them to do this years ago. How can this contradiction be explained in a country like the Netherlands, where in theory, it seems like you’re running out of space to some degree?
Yes, we are.
Of course, it’s hypocritical, and they are pretending. But it’s also just the case that facts don’t matter.
It’s not about arguments, it’s about ideology. And regarding the people coming in, they are not all refugees, but they are also people who are looking for a better life. And I don’t blame these people. If I were one of them, I would probably do the same. I blame my government for allowing it to happen.
But of course, if there is this huge influx of people, that will have a huge footprint on what the left thinks is a problem, climate change, but also in nature, because these (immigrants) will have the same way of life as the other people in the Netherlands. And they will do what you mentioned: They will buy a car, a house, and do the things that we think are normal.
But if you start talking about this point, then you are a racist. They don’t want a real debate about it, and they don’t want to hear arguments. If you say that we need more energy because we will have more people — that renewables may not pan out the way they assume they will — then you’re a climate denier. If you say we have to stop this illegal immigration, you’re again, a racist. And so every, let’s say grown-up debate can then end immediately, and they want that because they have run out of arguments and that’s why they resort to calling you names.
But as long as our media is not giving the real story of what’s going on, most of the people in the Netherlands or anywhere else will have no idea because it’s a very strong message from these Greens that is supported by the media.
In terms of the media, Remix News ran a video not so long ago where you talk about COVID vaccines. The video went viral on Twitter and some other platforms. And Facebook hit us with a fact check on this, and of course, it reduced the reach of the video. Is there any real answer to censorship on this issue and others, at least from a Dutch perspective?
The fact check is ridiculous. Let’s start with that. The fact check claimed, “Pfizer never claimed that they tested the vaccine on preventing the spread of the virus before the vaccine entered the market.”
But that was not my argument. My argument was that the governments misled us and said you have to do it for all of society to reduce the spread. You have to do it to protect your grandmother and protect your grandfather, which was based on nothing. It was not based on facts.
So you’re saying the fact check was highly misleading?
Yes, because they fact-checked something I didn’t even say. And I was very clear in that, in my message.
But nevertheless, Mr. (Albert) Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, also refused to say to the government, “Sorry we didn’t test this vaccine on stopping the transmission.” So,the government said you have to take the vaccine forsociety, otherwise you would spread the virus.
And the other thing is these so-called fact-checkers, some of them are journalists, why didn’t they ask the question about whether the vaccine really stops the spread of the virus? Why did I have to ask the question after a couple of years, why didn’t they do that? And now they blame me, these so-called fact-checkers, but not just them, also the news outlets and the mainstream media. They are there to check the government and ask critical questions. And we don’t only see this uncritical reporting on vaccines, but it’s all kinds of things. It’s also about energy. It’s also about illegal immigration.
They are there to support the government. It’s a system. For example, our national television, they receive 1 billion euros per year. And for that kind of money, they support our government.
They always talk about pluralism, but even in my country, there is no pluralism. It’s just not there. It’s just the long arm of our government. They keep the people stupid and the government makes them work. That’s how the system works. It sounds a little bit cynical, but in a way, it is just the way it is.
You were a business entrepreneur. Why would you subject yourself to the name-calling and the pressure of politics, give up your private life to enter a political field where you’re being called a Nazi, and racist, and various other names?
Because I have two children. I have two sons. They are grown up now. When I enter politics, I think my son was, he was 16 at the time. I’ve now been in politics for six years. And I want to pass on a country that is safe, that has prosperity and where democracy functions well.
So, the Netherlands is such a beautiful country, and we are declining. It’s not very democratic anymore. So, someone has to fight this fight, and I decided to do it. And I don’t give — well, let me say I don’t give a damn what people think about me. What do they say about me? I don’t care. I just don’t care. I even dare to say about myself: I’m a good person. I met my wife when we were 16, we are still together. I have paid so much in taxes. I raised two children. They are doing very well. I had maybe four penalties in my life for speeding three kilometers above the speed limit and one parking ticket. I believe I am a good person, I dare to say that about myself.
And at the same time, the fight for freedom is not for cowards. So, someone has to do it. And I don’t regret it. And I also appreciate that a lot of people are very happy with what I am doing.
And if you have an opinion, people have an opinion about me, and they have the right in this really big country. Everyone can have his own opinion, and they can also publish it.
But we are a free country because people like me in our history are fighting for the right to free speech.