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Watch: Tractor convoy heads to The Hague as Dutch farmers protest 'negative image'

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Thousands of farmers headed to The Hague on Wednesday in convoys of tractors, protesting what they call the "negative image" of Dutch agriculture.

Organisers of the protest, which disrupted traffic in the morning rush hour, said they want more respect for the farming profession. Farmers say they are unfairly blamed for high nitrogen emissions.

Protestor Jans de Wilcher said: "They blame agriculture for everything at the moment because of nitrogen emissions, but they forget the difference between NOX and NO3 [nitrogen oxides and nitrate] and that we as a sector store far more nitrogen than we produce., and that we as a sector store far more nitrogen than we produce.

"We are actually helping the Dutch problem rather than making it worse. So why do we get the blame?"

According to the Dutch farmers' organisation, LTO, exports from nearly 54,000 farms and other agricultural businesses were worth €90.3 billion last year. However, while farmers are a cornerstone of the Dutch economy, the sector also is blamed for pollution, and animal rights activists accuse farmers of keeping too many animals on their land.

Among the farmers' demands are that the government does not further reduce the number of animals they keep and that an "independent party" measures farms' carbon and nitrogen emissions.

An advisory commission last week recommended that the government buy out old and inefficient farms as a way of reducing nitrogen emissions.

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