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Ongoing EU Farmer Protests & Ukraine War to Hit Global Food Supply Chains

The ongoing farmer protests in Europe over efforts to reduce emissions will have major effects on food supply chains and could eventually bring down smaller economies, while the Ukraine War has affected global energy security.

Chintu Das
EU Farmers Protest
EU Farmers Protest

In addition to the ongoing farmer protests in Europe, sparked by the Netherlands government's measures to reduce emissions, the global energy crisis, which is a direct result of the already five-month-long conflict in Ukraine, will have a double-whammy effect on the global economy.

Presented with escalating protests, the EU will need to strike a balance between its food security and the environment, failing which not only the effects of this unrest would disrupt the global food chain but also further inflate prices in the afflicted nations. Any disruption to the global food supply chain will cause smaller economies to collapse, and the Sri Lankan crisis will be repeated on other continents. Oil prices are at an all-time high as a result of sanctions against Russia, and West Asian oil producers are making windfall profits by reducing production.

A huge farmers' protest that was sparked by demands to limit emissions of known pollutants from intensive livestock and crop production systems is picking up steam in the Netherlands while the Ukraine conflict has turned into a battleground for Russia and the Western alliance.

The size of the protest is forcing the Dutch government to reconsider its $22 billion plan to reduce nitrogen and ammonia emissions by 50–70% by 2030. As other nations show their support for the protests, the European Union would also be forced to make a difficult decision between food security and the environment.

In a show of support, farmers in Poland, Germany, Italy, and Spain have also started protests out of concern that their governments would also execute a similar strategy to comply with EU regulations. German farmers gathered in huge numbers to protest near the city of Heerenburg on June 6 and blocked roads near the Dutch-German border. Additionally, Italian farmers demonstrated over tractors in rural areas, threatening to march through Rome. Polish farmers blocked up the streets of the nation's capital in protest of the high borrowing rates that have disrupted production and endangered their way of life. They have also accused the administration of permitting imports of inexpensive food.

Farmers in the southern province of Andalusia blocked roadways in protest of high fuel prices and growing prices for basic goods as the heat of rising inflation spread to Spain.

The EU Parliament released a resolution criticising India's "distorting" sugar subsidies, claiming that they violate the WTO agriculture agreement and are harmful to the EU sugar producer in an apparent attempt to appease the farmers. Even if the decision provided some respite to the European sugar business, demonstrations have not subsided.

According to the Dutch government's plan, the farmer would have to significantly reduce the quantity of nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions produced by their livestock. The agricultural sector in the Netherlands accounts for 45% of all nitrogen emissions. As a result, many farms would be forced to shrink, and some would have to close forever. Despite the fact that the government has announced significant investments in farm housing and technology, they will also have the power to compel farmers to sell their property if sufficient volunteers are not found to make the move to technology.

An estimate indicates that the Dutch government's strategy may render 30% of the farms inoperative by 2030. The Dutch farmers, whose livelihoods have always been supported by the government, are incensed by the attempt to comply with the EU's "Green Deal," which might drastically alter the wealthy agriculture industry in their country.

With their tractors, thousands of them blocked roads, ports, airports, and supermarket distribution facilities. They even set straw bales on fire in the streets and poured dung near government buildings. As the protests get louder, the supermarkets are running out of food. Fishermen are now obstructing ports and numerous ships are blasting their horns to protest the rising cost of living, among other groups that have started to take part in the demonstrations.

Although there is a "limit to what a government can do" to assist citizens in the face of growing inflation, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has for the time being backed the idea. The common man does not desire this response from their government.

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