Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Ukraine on Monday. It was his first visit since Putin invaded the country in February. The visit was kept a secret until lunchtime on Monday, presumably due to security concerns.

Rutte began his visit by touring the suburbs of Bucha and Irpin. War crime investigators are collecting evidence of Russian atrocities in the suburbs. Hundreds of civilians have allegedly been killed by Russian forces. He said he has been speaking with President Zelensky regularly on the phone but wanted to see the damage for himself.

‘Obviously we’ve all seen the photos, but to stand here…’ Rutte said after visiting a bombed-out apartment block in the company of local community leaders. ‘The total opposite of civilisation and decency. That one country has invaded another country and inflicted this kind of extreme chaos. So many people have died, it’s utterly dreadful.’

‘Zelensky and I talk on the phone regularly, but I wanted to be here for myself so we could have more time. But also so I could see it for myself and to tell the Netherlands that there is a reason why we are helping Ukraine. ‘There’s also a reason why we in the Netherlands are prepared to accept the consequences together – rising prices, higher energy costs – and you can see that reason behind me.’

Rutte and Zelensky will meet and then hold a joint press conference.

The Netherlands will continue its commitment to deliver military aid to Ukraine but Rutte cautioned that soon the Dutch military will have to replenish its own stock. Among the equipment sent to Ukraine are eight German-built P2000 howitzers.

All of this is fine and good but isn’t the timing of this goodwill visit a bit suspicious? Dutch farmers are holding protests and rebelling against their government. Farmers in The Netherlands have their own version of a Freedom Convoy. The Dutch government has gone cuckoo for coco puffs and is making demands on farmers that will run them out of business. So they are taking drastic action to get the attention of their government. Farmers are blocking highways with tractors, setting bales of hay on fire, and other actions to protest and force the government into a referendum. They don’t want to anger their fellow citizens, they say, but we know how the public responds to closed highways, right?

The Netherlands is a mostly agricultural country yet the government is bending a knee to climate change extremists. Farming is difficult work under the best of circumstances and the new demands are making it impossible for farmers to recommend that young people go into it themselves.

The Dutch government is aiming to cut nitrogen and ammonia emissions by 50% by 2030 in a bid to improve air, land, and water quality. The plans include cutting back on fertilizer used on farms and ratcheting back the number of livestock by an estimated 30%.

The country is one of the largest agricultural producers in the world, exporting roughly $97 billion in 2020 worth of fruit, flowers, vegetables, dairy products and meat.

“If you ask me now, I’d say, please don’t even think about it,” dairy farmer Jaap Zegwaard said of whether he would recommend farming to younger generations. “There are so many worries. Life’s much too beautiful to deal with what’s going on in the agriculture sector at the moment.”

The Dutch farmers haven’t gotten a lot of press coverage with their protests, probably because like the Canadian Freedom Convoy, the protests are mostly peaceful. Not the BLM mostly peaceful kind of protests, but actually mostly peaceful. Last week one 16-year-old farmer was shot at by police when he allegedly moved his tractor toward police. He was not injured.

Fishermen in the Netherlands have also joined the protests, blocking the port in Harlingen with trawlers last week, EuroNews reported.

The demonstrations have become so widespread that Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger gave a shout-out to the farmers in Dutch during an Amsterdam concert Thursday.

The Dutch protests gained more attention on Tuesday when police opened fire on a 16-year-old farmer driving a tractor in the northern area of the country during a protest. The teenager allegedly moved his tractor toward police, according to the German outlet ​​Deutsche Welle. After initially being held on suspicion of attempted manslaughter, the teenager was released without charge. No one was injured during the incident, according to police.

The protests have been predominantly peaceful, with one demonstration about 60 miles east of Amsterdam moving aside from a road to let two funeral processions pass. Farmers at the protest also handed out food and coffee to police officers, the Guardian reported.

Prime Minister Rutte has slammed the protesters and even called them “a-holes” in private conversations. “It is not acceptable to create dangerous situations. It is not acceptable to intimidate officials,” he said last week.

A supermarket company funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Almelo caught on fire yesterday. It is now extensively damaged from the fire.

There is already concern of famines and food shortages on the horizon. This sort of disruption will affect the supply chains in countries around the world. Putting the blame for climate change on the shoulders of farmers is not a good idea. It’s important that their story gets out as they try to save their farms.

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