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More and more farmers are moving away from Farmers Defense Force.

More and more farmers are publicly distancing themselves from the radical action group Farmers Defense Force. The menacing language of foreman Mark van den Oever is a shock to his colleagues. Nevertheless, the group retains its place in the consultations on nitrogen issues. The Agriculture Collective, a collection of thirteen farmers’ organi-zations, has closed the rows. Also Farmers Defense Force is still part of it after the latest slip of the leader Mark van den Oever. Negotiations with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Carola Schouten about a farmers’ agreement are resumed.  But among farmers, support for the radical action group is crumbling. “The expiration date of Farmers Defense Force has passed,” says Dennis Hurkmans, farmer from Nistelrode. He is completely done with the threatening language of Van den Oever, who lashed out on Wednesday at the “meat bosses and dairy bobos” who “betray the sector as Judas”. Earlier, the Farmers Defense Force leader made a Holocaust comparison that went wrong in many people. The apologies that the action group made on Wednesday evening (“wrong words”) are too late for Hurkmans. “We farmers can no longer stand behind the Farmers Defense Force with healthy farmers’ minds. A club with a totally crazy and crazy leader.”

Fear of colleagues
According to Hurkmans, there are more farmers who share his ideas, but not everyone dares to speak out for fear of reactions from colleagues. Annechien ten Have, a farmer’s wife from Beerta in Groningen, does. Although she initially had her doubts. “I was afraid to be pilloried. But in the end I thought it was too important to make this sound heard.” She openly distances herself from Farmers Defense Force, mainly because of that club’s “intimidating” and “threatening” language. “The size is full, I’m really fed up,” she says. “It was not the first time either. Yes, you can be quite bright. Because there is a lot wrong with the way farmers are treated. But you shouldn’t fight evil with evil.” The sector still agrees that farmers are being disproportionately charged for nitrogen emissions by ‘The Hague’. The division of the farmers’ protest is mainly in the tone of FDF. He consciously chooses big words to make an impression. “If you are sewn, you can be angry,” said Van den Oever. On Thursday he kept a low profile and never answered questions.

Incident too much
For the Brabant farmer Hurkmans, the offending “Judas statement” is an incident too much. As far as he is concerned, the role of FDF has been played. ,,They have raised the issues, they earn the credits for that. But they don’t have the capacity to talk to. History has proven that. We have to wait for the next riot.” Linda Janssen also does not rule out a new incident. She is chairman of the Producers Organization for Pig Farming (POV, member of the Agricultural Collective). Janssen states that it is “an illusion to think that you can silence Farmers Defense Force.” “Of course what they say and do radiates to the collective. It is really not nice that you drive to The Hague for nothing because the consultation is canceled, while you have prepared that conversation well and have the idea that the parties are not so far apart.” Still, Janssen remains confident in Farmers Defense Force as a member of the collective. ,,We are there as a collective with one goal, let’s keep that in mind and discuss the content. Apologies have been made, as far as I am concerned we can continue.”

This applies to all parties in the collective who distance themselves from the Judas and Holocaust remarks, but who want to continue with Farmers Defense Force. Janssen compares the Farmers Defense Force with the activists of Greenpeace. You don’t always have them on a string, but because of their unorthodox actions you sometimes achieve what you would otherwise not achieve.

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