Guardian: Thousands march across Dartmoor to demand right to wild camp

Thousands march across Dartmoor to demand right to wild camp

More than 3,000 people protest on estate of Alexander Darwall after his court victory ends right to wild camp in England

The Dartmoor march was one of the largest countryside access protests the UK has ever seen.

More than 3,000 people joined one of the UK’s largest ever countryside access protests on Saturday on the Dartmoor estate of a wealthy landowner who won a case ending the right to wild camp in England.

Groups of walkers, families, students and local people arrived by foot, shuttle bus and bike to the small Dartmoor village of Cornwood throughout the morning and then thronged for hours along moss- and ivy-draped lanes up on to the rugged, boulder-strewn moorland owned by the Conservative party donor and hedge fund manager Alexander Darwall.

Darwall, Dartmoor’s sixth-largest landowner, sparked outrage earlier this month when he won a case in the high court overturning the right to freely camp on large parts of Dartmoor, arguing that the right had never existed. The area had been the only place in England where there was a right to wild camp without seeking permission.

There has never been a time when it has been more essential for humans to be connected to nature – but we’re having our right of access removed,” said Laurie Huggett, 38, who travelled with her family to the protest from Cornwall. “We felt shock and horror when we heard about the ruling. We had to come today.”

Many were riled up rather than appeased by the announcement last week of a hastily negotiated permissive access deal between the moor’s leading landowners and Dartmoor National Park Authority, which allows people to camp in a smaller area of the park in exchange for a yet-to-be-decided management fee paid out of public funds. A representative for Darwall confirmed some of his land had been entered into the wild camping scheme.

It sticks in my craw,” says Duncan Hutchinson, 71, who lives nearby with his wife. “We are not accepting favours from our masters. We are not their serfs. It isn’t the 19th century. Dartmoor is not a private gentlemen’s shooting estate.”

The prospect of the park authority having to pay landowners for access angered others. “Taxpayers are now having to pay for something that was free for all of us a week ago. That’s wrong. And these areas can be easily withdrawn,” said Steve Ward-Booth, 48, a local GP, who wild camps with his children. “It’s a short step to fencing off the land for pheasant shoots for the privileged minority and stopping walkers. Where does it end?”

The agreement has been denounced as a “stitch-up” by campaigners, with a diverse range of outdoor organisations from the Ramblers, British Mountaineering Council and British Canoeing opposing any deal that replaces public rights with permissive arrangements, which can be withdrawn by landowners at any time. Analysis by the Right to Roam Campaign, which organised the protest, shows more than 50,000 hectares (123,500 acres) have been lost to wild campers under the deal, amounting to an 18% reduction in the land available for walkers to pitch tents carried in backpacks.

One outdoor volunteer said she was taking a group of children training for the Ten Tors challenge to camp in a pub garden this weekend. “We don’t have permission [to camp] in January,” said Rebecca Trebilcock. “We are camping in a beer garden tonight. We’ve lost two weekends when we could have been wild camping as a result of the ruling. It is heartbreaking.”

The walk culminated in a theatrical ceremony to summon an ancient Dartmoor spirit called Old Crockern on the bleak expanse of Stall Moor, which forms part of the Darwalls’ estate. Hundreds of protesters cheered in the bright winter sunshine as the moor’s ghostly guardian, who, according to folklore, rode a skeleton horse and punished the avarice of a rich Dartmoor merchant, appeared on the brow of the hill.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said it was one of the largest countryside access protests the UK had ever seen. “This is by far the biggest right-to-roam mobilisation since the campaign to open up the countryside more than two decades ago – and one of the largest since the protests and trespasses of the 1930s that led to the formation of national parks. It shows how deeply people care about access to this country’s most beautiful landscapes.”

About 400 working-class ramblers battled Duke of Devonshire gamekeepers to reach the Kinder Scout plateau in the Peak District in 1932. The prosecution and jailing of five of the trespassers led to a rally of close to 10,000 in nearby Winnats Pass calling for free access to the mountains. In 1999 the Ramblers association brought 2,500 people on to Chiltern hills in Oxfordshire to demand a right to roam.

Ashbrook, who is a vice-president of the Ramblers, said the court case may prove to be the catalyst for a new movement. “The strength of feeling on display is about far more than the right to wild camping on Dartmoor’s commons. The ruling has lit a fire in the public’s imagination, and people see this as a threat to their rights and freedoms, and realise the injustice of having access rights to only 8% of England,” she said.

Alexander Darwall has been contacted for comment on Saturday’s protests. Responding to the high court judgment earlier this month, Darwall and his wife, Diana, said: “We are grateful to the high court for its thoroughness in clarifying the matter. We now hope to engage with the Dartmoor National Park Authority, so that we can improve outcomes on the ground. Working together, we can improve conservation of the Dartmoor commons and improve the experience for those enjoying the commons legitimately.”

‘Horrified’, ‘a catastrophe’, inconceivable’. Dartmoor wild camping judgement ‘a huge step backward’

Farmers Alexander and Diana Darwall brought a successful legal challenge over wild camping.

Tom Pilgrim – Friday 13 January 2023 16:40

Farmers Alexander and Diana Darwall brought a successful legal challenge over wild camping (Ben Birchall/PA)

A High Court ruling that people do not have a right to wild camp in Dartmoor National Park without landowners permission has been called a ‘huge step backward’, as disappointed campaigners vowed to ‘go to war’ and challenge the decision.

Farmers Alexander and Diana Darwall brought a successful legal challenge over wild camping, claiming some campers cause problems to livestock and the environment.

Mr and Mrs Darwall, who keep cattle on Stall Moor, which forms part of their more-than 3,450-acre estate in the southern part of Dartmoor, secured a finding from a judge that a 1985 law that regulates access to moorland does not provide a right to wild camp.

The Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), which defended the High Court claim, said it was really disappointed by Sir Julian Flauxs ruling and would be considering whether to appeal.

The Ramblers Association, a walking charity now known as the Ramblers, tweeted: This decision is a huge step backward for the right of everyone to access nature.

It said it supported the long-established precedent of wild camping on Dartmoor and said it would fight to defend our rights of access & overturn this result.

The charity later said it was concerned the legal case could be the thin end of the wedge for peoples rights to explore nature.

Access to nature helps everyone stay connected to the environment and passionate about protecting it for future generations, it added.

The Right to Roam campaign tweeted that the judges ruling was an absolute outrage and that it now goes to war.

It said it was launching a ferocious campaign to fight for our right to sleep under the stars and called for people to join a march on Mr Darwalls land later this month.

Emma Linford, an outdoor education professional with 20 years experience, and part of The Stars are for Everyone campaign, told the PA news agency that she felt rage about the rights of privilege and entitlement of how one person can remove such an important right for so many.

Ms Linford, who has led skills training on Dartmoor, added that Wild camping is not an occupation, it is transitory, it is recreation. Recreation that connects, inspires, develops rounded human beings.

The Dartmoor Preservation Association, an independent organisation interested in the moors ecology, said on Twitter that the judgment was a great let-down for all who love Dartmoor.

It added: This is just the latest in a historical assault on public rights of access to the countryside at a time when we desperately need more, not less time in nature.

Also on Twitter, MP Alex Sobel, Labours shadow minister for environment, said: Our National Parks should be open to all and access to Dartmoor is integral to that.

Labour will expand the right to roam as part of our programme for Government.

Our natural spaces are here for us all to share for biodiversity, wellbeing and equity.

Ruth Marvel, chief executive of The Duke of Edinburghs Award scheme, said: We are extremely disappointed by todays decision.

This generation of young people are grappling with the aftershocks of a devastating pandemic and a once-in-a-lifetime cost-of-living crisis, which are taking a harmful toll on their mental health.

Now is the time to protect and extend their right to explore the great outdoors and get off the beaten track, with all the vital mental and physical benefits that brings, not limit it further.

She said the scheme was liaising with the DNPA and hoped to ensure that young people who explore our countryside for their DofE wont lose out on the unique thrill of solitude, independence and adventure that wild camping brings.

The Only Absolute Right To A Home In Europe: The Russian Constitution Chapter 2, Article 40

Article 40 of the Russian Constitution states that everyone has the right to housing and nobody may be deprived of such housing arbitrarily

Russian Constitution (2014) Article 40

1. Everyone shall have the right to a home. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of his or her home.

2. The bodies of state authority and local self-government shall encourage housing construction and create conditions for exercising the right to a home.

3. Low-income people and other persons mentioned in law and in need of a home shall receive it gratis or for reasonable payment from the state, municipal and other housing stocks according to the norms fixed by law.

The Battle For Soledar (Jan23) With Scott Ritter

Former UN Weapons Inspector and Marine Corps Intelligence Officer Scott Ritter concludes his analysis with comment on California shanty towns and Article 40 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation

Rent-Strike: Students at University of Manchester on Rent-Strike over cost-of-living crisis

Students at University of Manchester on rent strike over cost of living crisis

Organisers say they are seeking 30% monthly cut and that more than 150 people have signed up
The Guardian, Mon 9th Jan 2023

Hundreds of students in halls of residence at the University of Manchester are withholding their rent payments this month over the cost of living crisis.

The students are seeking to pressure their university into offering a 30% cut on monthly rent payments, including a rebate for fees already paid, which they claim have become unaffordable.

The organisers said: “We know that the university can do much more to materially help students deal with this crisis. The money is there to support UoM students without ripping us off.”
The organisers said that more than 150 students have signed up to take part so far, of whom some had already cancelled their direct debits while others would manually withhold their rent payment on the week of 19 January.

They said this amounted to more than £100,000, since average payments for the spring term are about £1,800, although the organisers are anticipating that more than £300,000 could be withheld.

A survey by the Office for National Statistics in November found half of all students in England were facing financial difficulties, with a quarter taking on additional debts and three in 10 skipping lectures and tutorials to cut costs.

Fraser McGuire, a first year history and politics student, said he was moved to help organise the strike after realising he would be left to live off £200 from his maintenance loan for four months after paying rent.

He said students felt “worried, stressed, angry and powerless”. “Lots are in a lot of financial difficulty. Out of a lot of people’s maintenance loan payments, 70, 80, 90% of that goes on rent. Students are working up to full-time hours to help get them through their studies,” he added.

He said the organisers had taken tips from the students who went on strike in 2020, securing a 30% rebate worth £4m from the university to compensate them for their dissatisfaction with their pandemic experience, and they were in talks with students at other universities.

Manchester students are also asking for no further increases in rent over the next three years, and for 40% of halls to meet the National Union of Students’ definition of affordability, which is 50% of the highest student maintenance loan. They believe that this could be funded through Manchester’s record £119.7m surplus.

The affordability of student accommodation is a problem across universities as rents have risen far more rapidly than inflation. Estimates by the NUS and the student housing charity Unipol suggest average costs have risen by 60% over the past decade to reach £7,347, surpassing the average £6,900 student maintenance loan.

A University of Manchester spokesperson said the university had implemented a £9m range of measures to help students with the cost of living crisis, including £2,000 support payments, £170 for every student and cheaper food options.

He added that rents in university halls included bills and were lower than similar private sector accommodation, with increases in 2022-23 between 1.5% and 6%.

He said: “We will do everything we can to support students who are unable to pay their rent and urge anyone struggling to speak to us as soon as possible. We are not currently aware of any students refusing to pay their rent but are aware of recent online comments made by a small number of campaigners.”

Dutch farmers battle technocratic forces driving them into oblivion

Dutch farmers battle technocratic forces driving them into oblivion

Nash Landesman – December 8, 2022

Dutch farmers are in open struggle against a cartel of multinational corporations, Davos-aligned parties and NGOs seeking control over the global food supply. They are sweeping the culture from the land, a farmer laments.

HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS The Netherlands is a patchwork of quaint towns and cities interwoven with flat expanses of immaculately-kept green agricultural pasture. The road and rail infrastructure are near-flawless. You could search for weeks without finding a pothole. It is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and makes some of the best steak, cheese, yogurt and milk on the planet. The land is fertile, valuable, and strategically located with easy access to the north Atlantic coast. So, for these reasons and more, legions of committees composed of unelected, largely unknown figures serving on the boards of an interwoven network of even lesser known private and multilateral bodies, insists on seizing it all, on account of saving the planet from its deadliest enemy: man himself. Their target: the Dutch farmer. They are slowly killing us with regulation, one farmer told The Grayzone. It is death by a thousand paper-cuts, or The Art of War by the modern technocrat.

First, some background: Holland exports the most food on earth, behind only America, on a landmass roughly the size of Indiana. Farmers the world over come to study Dutch techniques. The country embraces whats known as the Mansholt theorya philosophy of ensuring food security and self-sufficiency that emerged from the second world war as a response to Nazi-imposed famine. To stave-off a similar tragedy, Dutch agriculture embraces the Haber-Bosch process, a method of infusing fertilizer with nitrogen to increase yield efficiency. Invented in the early 1900s by a pair of Nobel Prize-winning chemists, Haber-Bosch is responsible for the existence of half the worlds population today (and is known in Malthusian circles as the detonator of the population explosion), thanks to its ability to grow more food on less land.

But now global bodies like the World Banks Climate Smart Agriculture program, the UNs protected area initiatives, the European Commission and armies of well-funded NGOs are executing a wholly-comprehensive platform targeting Dutch farmers restricting both organic and artificial fertilizer use while asserting biodiversity protection as the pretext for snatching land from the productive.

Dutch farmers, in protest, have driven tractors to the Hague, tossed flaming trash onto the roads and sprayed manure across government buildings.

Its worth reemphasizing that the Dutch government is carrying out the same radical experiment conducted in Sri Lanka earlier this year eliminating nitrogen-based fertilizer, the basis of modern survival. In the southeast Asian country, it led to a famine that toppled the government. The Sri Lankan disaster fronted a simple premise: replace something with nothing. And to eliminate Russian gas from the geopolitical scene. The Colombo declaration, signed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2019, celebrated the end of food security and sovereignty, offering in its place a model for import-dependency and agricultural destruction now being imposed on the Dutch.

They are sweeping the culture from the land, says Sieta Van Keimpema, a sturdy 6-foot Dutchwoman in her 50s with short, wavy black hair. She is head of the European Milk Board, and leader of the Dutch farmers de-facto political arm, Farmers Defense Force (FDF).

Our government has made laws and laws that put us in a corner that you cannot come back from, she says. If people cannot put food on the table you get riots. You get an unstable society. I dont see the benefits to this. Her group, Farmers Defense Force, is characterized as vigilante populist heroes by some; and as troublemakers responsible for sparking the protests by others. FDF originated after environmental activists, Meat the Victims, forcefully occupied a pig farm in a small Dutch town in 2019. Instead of taking action, police sent in negotiators, prolonging the ordeal. FDF subsequently created a Bat Signal whereby farmers can call on a special WhatsApp group to rally others to come to the rescue.

When they arent producing food, members can be found battling Brussels or butting heads in the Hague. We have a government spending 25 billion euros to reduce agricultural production, Sieta says, confirming official policy. According to heavily-redacted European Commission documents, the goal is terminating farms through overregulation, deploying mandatory buyouts if necessary.

Official justifications are not up for debate. Take some of the most insulting regulations, made in the name of flood prevention, a puzzle the Dutch have solved since the countrys inception, erecting dykes, walls, levies and canals to build a civilization out of the oceans (as half of Holland lies below sea-level). In its green manifesto, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency preaches that more radical policies are needed, particularly for flood protectionThe main emphasis is on the planet dimensiona Netherlands that is more sustainable and Future-Proof. Accordingly, some computer models predict with 80% certainty a sea-level rise of 20 meters within the next century, after having risen 2 cm across the last one.

A related justification is that nitrogen leakage caused by agriculture makes Dutch tap water undrinkable, and so farming must be eliminated. The reality is that Hollands tap water was awarded second best on the continent by the European Water Awards; behind Austria, in a debatable placement. Dutch drinking water is so crisp and clean, it almost makes Evian taste like toilet sludge. The real problem: Holland is 50% composed of mostly independently-owned agricultural operations, and they occupy prime real-estate.

The Dutch environmental report further seems to justify what many have been speculating: The inflow of foreign migrants [caused in no small part by U.S. wars] feeds the need for expansion, calling for the elimination of 300,000 hectares of farmland between now and 2040. This will be initiated by the conversion of agricultural land into nature conservation areas, without irony. Additionally, rich people need second homes, since it is assumed that families with a high income will opt to live in green areas. Dutch households display a marked preference for single-family homes with a garden. The Dutch concept of the ideal home will shift, possibly in the direction of gated communities, [and] more second home ownership.

To nobodys surprise, housing developers subsidized by the government and working with the Society for Preservation of Nature Monuments in the Netherlands, have already begun to erect houses in protected areas, on lands wrested from farmers.

In the Netherlands around 800,000 people work in agriculture. If you reduce half the sector theres not critical mass anymore to continue, Sieta explains. The big dairies need a certain amount of milk to have a viable cost priceI think we are the only country in the world that has a minister of nitrogenwho really doesnt know what shes talking about. She admitted I really dont know what Im saying. I say, go home, because what shes doing is destroying a whole sector.

Meanwhile, many farmers have reached consensus about the forces they believe to be behind the attack on their livelihoods.

Left-wing parties like Democrats 66, which promises, well be working towards reducing the cattle population by half, are very close to Klaus Schwab, Sieta says. They go to Davos and dont deny it. Its a fact that the WEF [World Economic Forum/Davos Group] is pushing legislation that isnt decided in a democratic way. If you comment on that, as I did in the meeting, the civil servants get really aggressive. The Netherlands is pushing legislation that has never been discussed in the parliament. Mention that the air is comprised of 85% nitrogen, and youre slammed as a climate denier.

The D for democracy has become dictation. They have no shame, Sieta says. The government has given an enormous subsidy to artificial meat; lab meat, and theyre calling it future food. But Im not going to eat insects. Im going to eat beef and chicken. The bottom line, according to Sieta: They produce hot air, we produce food on the tableThey dont want innovation, they want buyouts.

Indeed, Hollands world-famous agricultural innovation hub, Wageningen University, the Stanford /Silicon Valley of farming, has ceased developing techniques that help farmers. Instead theyre now focused on producing bugs for human consumption. The World Economic Forum promote this agenda with ads featuring Hollywood stars like Nicole Kidman chomping down on a bowl of crickets, putting an Aussie-accented celebrity glow on a grim and deeply disturbing future.

The farmers have seen what is happening with the World Economic Forum, with Bill Gates, etcthats why they are so active, Sieta adds. They know that what they are fighting is a very strong lobby of multinationals who really want to control food. After the war we decided we should never have hunger again, to produce as much food as possible and to use nitrogen and fertilizer to do it. But now they are pushing an agenda very similar to what Hitler wanted. If you control food then you control everything.

The Dutch government has teamed up with pools of private capital and NGOs linked to international institutions to mobilize over $25 billion to terminate Dutch farmers. One group in particular strikes fear into the heart of farmers: the relentless, racketeering eco-lobby, MOBilization for the Environment, known as MOB.

We have MOB. When we go to court we lose because of legislation; the provinces will fight the MOB. MOB is fighting the provinces, Sieta says. It all started in may 2019 when the court decided our program for nitrogen was not good. They made us guinea pigs, like in Sri Lanka.

MOB has a superpower: to sniff-out any leeway that a Dutch provincial government may be offering to a farmer to aid in his survival, and to sue that government into imposing more rules, harsher restrictions, tighter regulations until his existence is terminated.

Mainline Dutch media called MOBs leader, Johan Vollenbroek, the most hated man in the Netherlands by some. And on the groups dominance over recent nitrogen negations:  MOB is of course not in charge; the cabinet will eventually have to make the decision. But MOB and a number of other nature organizations do have an important means of pressure: lawsuits. In recent years they have carried hundreds of them and very often the judges proved them right.

MOBs mandate runs from the petty theyll sue to reject a single farms grazing application to the grandiose, setting new and major national legal precedents, like revamping the countrys entire nitrogen program in 2019. Governments fear them. Farmers cannot stop them. And this is how Vollenbroek supposedly spends his retirement. Of course he is likely an agent of those who wrote the treaties to begin with.

While Vollenbroek applauds the fact that five Dutch farms are destroyed each day, he also argues that more work is needed to be done. Vollenbroek receives death threats and lives most of the time in France, according to reports. Dutch royalty, the Order of Orange-Nassau, has even knighted Vollenbroek for his efforts against farming. He is not a lawyer. Nor an activist. He is a corporate chemical engineer and somehow a treaty expert who consults EU nations on how to override their own laws in obedience to a galaxy of global treaties written over three decades ago at the 1991 Rio Earth Summit. Every country has its own versions of such groups built-into the framework of the global system: inside-experts posing as environmentalists to enforce or extend vaguely-written treaties for the sake of opportunistic exploitation, fulfilling geopolitical goals and long-term plans. But in Holland, MOB has a track record for setting anti-farming precedents that stick.

As Vollenbroek stated, Once youve concluded a treaty, you cant just break it open and negotiate againThe livestock population simply has to be drastically reduced, a large number of farmers have to stop There is no alternative.

MOB is responsible for revoking thousands of Dutch farming permits in court. According to part of MOBs lengthly mission statement/public manifesto, translated from Dutch:

I am ashamed to be Dutch. Time is running out, especially for the people of the rich countries, to open their eyes to a disturbing truth: we have colonized the future. The Netherlands has become a developing country in terms of environmental sustainability. The pariah of Europe.

It is on this basis that MOB has singled out farmers as the main source of the nations supposed environmental problems. They have been ringing this same alarm bell for thirty years now, ever since the group was founded in the early 1990s. And yet somehow, the Netherlands still stands.

Four Dutch farmers

Johan/Paula: Theyve left us with no room to move into the future

From an environmental perspective, no country on earth could be less environmentally menacing than Holland.

Near the Dutch town of Emmen, along the German border, Johan and his wife Paula struggle to survive as 5th generation dairy farmers. Milk runs through my veins, Johan says, standing with his hands on his hips, smoking a hand-rolled cigarette out back behind his shabby house. Home is where the cows are. Yet Johans down-home wisdom and minimalistic way of life are being eradicated, as his wife, Paula, chimes in: They are slowly killing us with more rules and regulations. Theyve left us with no room to move into the future.

The family plan to flee to Ireland where they perceive climate regulation to be less stringent. Their children, enrolled in agricultural school, will not be able to inherit the family farm as intended. Under a new Dutch law, once you stop farming, you and your entire kin are forever banned from farming in the Netherlands again.

The family is not being offered a buyout because their land falls within a so-called protected area, making it illegal to milk cows or perform agricultural activity under the EU/World Banks GEF (Global Environmental Facility) Natura 2000 treaty. They are also forbidden from planting corn until late fall, when the crop is no longer viable.

There is a push pull dynamic that offers farmers some breathing room, provided they can pay for it. You can buy carbon and phosphate offset rights, giving the rich a chance to prosper in the new green economy. But every time they make an allowance, they take it back, Paula says, pointing to the Dutch governments recent encouragement of farmers to build specialized, $100,000 mechanical barn floors to separate fecal matter from urine (thus reducing ammonia).

The floor allowance held up briefly, with farmers taking out huge loans to build them. But soon enough, the litigious MOB came and argued it wasnt good enough, Johan says. They won the court battle. If you pay the MOB enough money they will back off. Thats why theyre called the mob, after all, he laughs.

The government has already snatched a parcel of his familys property due to its being within 30 meters of a protected watershed. Soon its going to be 40 meters, then 400, Paula says. Eventually they will take everything.

Nelly: There have been many suicides. People get sick and ill and depressed.

In the Friesian town of Hoogeveen, resides Nelly, a 73-year-old champion horse-breeder and dairy farmer. She says she is tired of fighting both breast cancer and overregulation. Nelly receives regular control checks by bureaucrats visiting her farm up to five times a week, ensuring her withering operation abide by increasingly unrealistic standards. They check for everything. Ear tags, manure, cows, your yard. Now you need a permit to mow grass between stones, which is totally crazy since it has nothing to do with dairy farming.

Her farm requires an endless array of new permits just to function, and everything she does is tracked. The cows have the ear tags and the horses have a transponder under their skin, registered in the system. The government wants to know where everything is, so if a horse has to go to a training stable, we have to put it in the computer so they can see, she says, pointing to an Excel sheet on her laptop. They make the rules stronger and stronger. It gets harder and harder to survive. Soon, Nelly surmises, we will need a permit to ride our own horses. Things are heading in that direction. The weeds between boulders in her front yard have grown unwieldy, as Nelly has not yet received her renewed mowing permit for the year.

The irony, of course, as Nelly explains, is that the government says we need to get rid of the farmers, that we need nature; but if they send the farmers away then it will be one big mess. We do not only milk cows, but we keep our pastures and the forest in good condition. Everything is kept neat by the farmers.

Nellys farm is emptier than usual, due to a new law stating that you can keep no more than 1.5 cows per hectare, an impossibly small number down from four. The regulation favoring large landowners has already cost Nelly a third of her cows.

We have to sell 17 cows out of 55 and a heifer counts as two, she says. We live in the middle of a forest and have only a few hectares out front so we cannot use pasture, but we have loads of land. If we dont give it up, they take it away from our milking money. They know how to find you.

The nature of the project is not lost on Nelly. Holland wants to be the best little boy out of the class, she says. We start with this nonsense and the other countries are following. They are now talking about nitrogen, phosphates.

Simply put, they just draw a map and say how many cows should go there. You are not allowed to spread manure, even organic. There have been many suicides. People get sick and ill and depressed. What people do not understand is that farming is a way of life.

Nellys farm is deemed insufficient nature by the UN/World Banks development plan, its return to nature ethos embodied in a program called re-wilding, under which it is illegal to harm predators. So, last month, wolves ate four of Nellys cows, including one calf, and bit one of her prized filly horses in the leg, forcing Nelly to put it down. Shoot a deadly wolf, go to jail. Thats just the way things go around here.

Jos: Theres nothing scientific about it whatever.

Still, other farmers remain defiant. We will win, asserts a rangy, 67, thirty-something Jos Ubels, standing on his beef cattle ranch in denim overalls, his face and arms covered in dirt and mud and grime. Jos makes no apologies, offering a simple critique of the governments policies: Its hideous, its crazy what theyre imposing. Theres nothing logical about it. Mr. Ubels cows live better than many people. They are free to graze in the sun most of the time, before it all ends in one bad day.

As Jos explains, They dont want nitrogen because certain specific plants hate nitrogen; they only grow on poor soils, so they want the soil to be poor. And they are saying that the farmers are causing the soil to get richer. So, if youre farming more effectively than what is allowed, youre in trouble.

Official logic is reason inverted: The growth of obscure plants supersedes food production.

The threat posed by nitrogen, a gas that returns to the ground to feed nutrients in the soil, is grossly overstated if not wholly fictitious. As Jos notes: Its stupid because nitrogen is actually circular. In farming its absorbed back into the soil. But they only take into account the output. And they use flawed computer models to calculate this. Theres nothing scientific about it whatsoever.

Across the West, as we have seen with wildly inaccurate Covid predictions, flawed computer models have become a stand-in for science, not a supplement to it. But this is about politics, so those on the take are indifferent to reason, let alone to the fate of Dutch agriculture.

If you have people who live on the government payroll, they dont have to produce anything, says Jos. They can just dream all day about idealistic solutions for problems that dont exist. If you ask them about real problems, they say its not our problem and they dont have a solution. Everything is the fault of the farmers.

Compounding the crisis confronting the farmers is a massive, growing fertilizer shortage. Within 1 or 2 months there will be no fertilizer in Europe, Jos predicts, So you can try to buy it but you cant find any. They are using the last of what they have in store. The price is 100x higher than it used to be. This will create a crisis because the demand is very high and there will be nothing left in stock. We need fertilizer but there is no production and no import because the biggest importer was Russia. Theres not enough gas.

He adds that the government still buys the very same Russian gas, only these days through middle-men at huge markups on the spot market.

The WEF [World Economic Forum] is radically trying to change the world, Jos notes. And their front man Klaus Schwab says in the end you will own nothing. The funny thing is that he will own everything. The rules they are coming up with are sick. Thats why you see the upside-down flags, its a sign of distress. Its to show the people of the Netherlands dont support this.

Unfortunately, it seems the environmental lawyers of the mobilization for the environment (MOB) have the know-how (and funding) to routinely defend anti-farming laws successfully in court.

Our government made some stupid laws. So for a smart lawyer from MOB, they know how to break down the laws because they are not very well constructed. And they do this on a regular basis. The government already lost four cases against them, and had to invent new laws. So theyre getting scared to fight MOB. When they have a problem, like with farming, they dont ask the farmers how to solve it. They ask MOB because the farmers do not get high-priced lawyers to fight the law. MOB has a key position because the government is not smart enough.

The question: how much longer can such an assault go on? If people are fed you can keep them happy so long as you have a good story, says Jos. But if they are getting hungry then the government will lose everything. In the first week, people cant buy anything; by the 2nd week they start complaining. By the third week they go to the Hague and rip the people out of office. Decades ago we decided as a nation that we want to have good agriculture. Now we have perfect agriculture and they want to shut it down. I think the roads will burn again.

Despite exceeding previously-set climate goals, the state is imposing even more stringent restrictions on Dutch farmers.

As even OECD admits, Environmental agreements, which are more or less binding substitutes for regulation, have been successful in a number of areas in the Netherlands; the European Commission concurring, Monitoring data show a downward trend in nitrate concentration in groundwater. Nevertheless, Implementation of environmental agreements should be accompanied more systematically by transparency mechanisms and the threat of penalties for farmers. (And its list of demands runs on for hundreds of pages, extending far beyond the scope of nature).

The farmer shall accept that the fertilizer application and account can be subject to control. Periodic nitrogen and phosphorus analysis in soil shall be performed for each farm. A fertilization account shall be kept for each farmland. It shall be submitted to the competent authority for each calendar year

It seems that nothing Dutch farmers can do will be adequate. We have a million less cows than in 1991 when [the global environmental treaty] Natura 2000 came, because of protected areas [where agriculture is forbidden or restricted], Sieta says. We already reduced 70 percent of emissions, a marked improvement confirmed by OECD as being insufficient. But a lot of politicians want an end to dairy. They say ammonia from animals is the worst thing that can happen.

So whats to replace food-production? One more stated plan, far-fetched as it might seem in the midst of Europes energy crisis, is to build a new kind of metropolis, a megacity encompassing parts of Holland, Germany and Belgium, called the Tristate-City.

The Tristate-City website brands the project as Europes new super-cityan organically green network metropol where urban and rural space remain in balance. Details are sparse, but the planners wholeheartedly promise: This model has no relation whatsoever with the nitrogen policy of the Dutch government!