THE HAGUE, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Dutch farmers staged a massive demonstration in and near The Hague on Tuesday to protest against accusations that they were "animal abusers or environment polluters".
An estimated 10,000 angry farmers and 400 tractors attended the demonstration at Malieveld park in The Hague on Tuesday afternoon. Other tractors that were prevented from entering the area by the police drove on to other parking places or to the nearby beach of Scheveningen. The tractors came from all parts of the country in the morning and caused chaos and delays on Dutch highways.
Three farmers were arrested after driving their tractors over barriers.
"You made a mess, caused chaos," co-organizer and sheep farmer Bart Kemp told on stage to Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten. "We are done with Minister Schouten. We are called environmental criminals while we provide food. That is why we are here with the largest agricultural protest in history."
Schouten told the crowd that the Netherlands can no longer ignore the farmers because of this protest. "Farmers who want to keep on farming and who want to transfer their business to their sons and daughters, I want to help you. As long as I am a minister there will be no halving of the livestock."
Several other politicians also appeared at Malieveld. Some were booed, as happened with GroenLinks (Green Left) leader Jesse Klaver, who advocates fewer animals on farms. "I understand the farmers' anger, but the bio-industry system is bankrupt. We have to go for fewer animals in the Netherlands. That is not a nice message, but it is the truth," said Klaver. "This government must quickly come up with a plan to remove the uncertainty of farmers."
The farmers received support from a number of parties, including the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy(VVD), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), ChristenUnie and the right-wing Party for Freedom(PVV).
At about 3.30 p.m. local time, the protest ended and the hundreds of tractors took to the roads again. The traffic organization ANWB expects massive delays and traffic jams in the evening hours.