Rutte's government is attempting radical changes in farming practices to cut nitrogen emissions. He is not deliberately targeting farmers.
A viral video shared on Facebook features known conspiracy theorist David Icke, claiming that Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte is "completely owned" by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and is destroying the country's farming sector. He further claims that PM Rutte is targeting Dutch farmers to "destroy them and get them off the land." Icke claims this will ensure a food shortage that would allow the government to control people as society becomes dependent on them for food. Icke adds that this action announced by the Dutch PM is the reason behind the protests by the nation's farmers. However, these claims are conspiratorial and baseless.
Once a model farming nation, the Netherlands is the world's second-largest exporter of agricultural goods and a producer of meat. However, in 2019, the highest administrative court of the Netherlands ruled that the nation violated its own emission law. Following this, the Dutch government rolled out plans to meet European targets of cutting nitrogen emissions by 50 percent by 2030.
This plan impacts all sectors, including livestock farming, because nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions are present in farm animal manure. The BBC reports that farmers have launched protests against the government's strict measures, which could result in heavy cuts in livestock numbers and farm closures. The report states that 11,200 farms could close, and 17,600 farmers could have to reduce livestock. Agriculture accounts for almost half the nation's nitrogen emissions, and proposals include reducing intensive farming and converting to "green farms."
Dutch farmers have held several rounds of negotiations with the government, but no agreement has been reached so far. Politico reported that in September, the Dutch government saw the exit of agriculture minister Henk Staghouwer, a post held by deputy prime minister Carola Schouten.
The Dutch government did not unilaterally develop the new emission reduction plans; it was agreed per the court's directive to comply with European laws. The government has even laid out plans to provide subsidies to farmers to support the transition to more sustainable farming approaches.
According to a report by The Associated Press, ministers have called the decisions an unavoidable consequence of goals to improve air, water, and land quality. Further, other radical changes will be imposed to cut emissions. In 2020, the government reduced highways' maximum speed limit from 130 km to 100 km per hour to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from vehicle engines. Logically has previously debunked several baseless claims about the Dutch farmers' protest.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive uptick in conspiracy theories linking the pandemic and the subsequent vaccination drive to the New World Order and Great Reset Conspiracies. These baseless conspiracy theories claim that an elite group of the wealthiest people in the world is planning to enslave the masses by taking away people's fundamental rights. David Icke, the speaker in the video in question, is a well-known conspiracy theorist who, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, questioned measures implemented by world governments and made bizarre claims amid the fight against SARS-CoV-2. The WEF, its founder Klaus Schwab, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are among the top targets of these conspiracy theorists.
Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government proposed the new emission reduction plan to comply with the country's highest administrative court and meet European emission targets. The changes in agricultural practices and speed limits are meant to achieve climate goals, not as a means of controlling the population. Claims that he aims to destroy the farmers and farming sector are baseless and conspiratorial. Hence, we have marked this claim as false.