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Nature reserve destroyed in farmer protest; Grocers lose millions in revenue

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Farmers severely damaged an area of about 720 square meters on the nature reserve near Stroe by working the area with their tractors on Monday, Laurens Jansen of forestry service Staatsbosbeheer said to Omroep Gelderland.

“The site has been destroyed and also fertilized, I noticed this morning,” Jansen said to the broadcaster. “The farmers entered the Naturea2000 area. It is not a very vulnerable piece of land, but the farmers crossed a line with the action.” Staatsbosbeheer filed charges of vandalism with the police.

After farmers blocked access to about 20 supermarket distribution centers on Monday, supermarkets are trying to figure out where they can recover the damages, a spokesperson for umbrella organization CBL said to AD. According to CBL, supermarkets have already suffered millions of euros in damages, mainly due to undelivered products spoiling in the distribution centers. Supermarkets also missed sales because they have fewer products on the shelves.

Farmers still blocked about ten distribution centers on Tuesday, CBL said to AD. These blockades were slowly coming to an end as the day continued.

A blockade at the Jumbo distribution center ended after a conversation with the acting mayor, according to RTV Drenthe. One in Gieten seemed to be tapering off, with only about five tractors refusing to leave.

The blockade at a Jumbo distribution center in Nieuwegein was lifted around noon after the police said they’d take action. The same happened at a Jumbo distribution center in Woerden, RTV Utrecht reported.

Another group of farmers briefly blocked the entrance to the Utrecht distribution center of online supermarket Picnic on Tuesday morning. But the group left after a discussion with the police, NOS reported.

At 1:15 p.m., there were still blockades at Lidl distribution centers in Almere in Heerenveen, at the Jumbo distribution center in Raalte, at a Boni center in Nijkerk, at a Plus center in Haaskbergen, and at an Aldi center in Drachten, according to NOS.

Jeroen van Maanen, a board member of the Dutch Dairy Farmers’ association, told AD that he doesn’t know where supermarkets will go to get damages compensated. According to him, the blockades were deliberately not coordinated by action groups like Farmers Defense Force or Argactie. “Farmers make plans in small groups. There is no coordination from above by an organization so that action groups don’t get claims. In this way, no one has any responsibility, and we can keep it going,” he said.

According to Van Maanen, CBL saying it wants to recover damages from farmers is only creating bad blood and making farmers more willing to take more actions.

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