The Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB), has joined three other parties to form a new coalition government in the Netherlands, after over five months of negotiations following the national elections.

Known as BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) in Dutch, the party was set up initially in reaction to nitrogen limits effecting agriculture. The party has now evolved to represent those uneasy about rapidly changing government policies, increased government interference, and rising living costs.

BBB's broad appeal, combined with the straightforward leadership style of Caroline Van der Plas and her promise to be more accessible to citizens, helped the party win the majority of votes in every province during provincial elections. The party now participates in ten provincial governing coalitions, a notable feat given its core support from farmers, who number only 50,000 in the Dutch population of 17.6m.

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Joining BBB in the government are the far-right nationalist Party for Freedom (PVV), the conservative New Social Contract (NSC), and the liberal, pro-business People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, which led the last four governments.

“There will be breathing space for our farmers and fishers again,” said PVV leader Geert Wilders, who relinquished the chance to become prime minister to secure the coalition deal. To win the election and agree to the coalition, Wilders and his party had to moderate some of their most extreme anti-Islam and anti-EU policies.

While a stricter migration policy has dominated coalition news, the four parties will also focus on protecting farmers’ interests and securing domestic nuclear energy and gas supplies.

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A significant policy shift will occur regarding nitrogen, a crucial issue for Dutch farmers and the catalyst for BBB's formation in 2019. The proposal to halve the country's livestock numbers due to nitrogen damage to nature reserves sparked widespread farmer protests in the Netherlands, the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter by value.

These protests mobilized farmer demonstrations across the EU, peaking earlier this year. With farmers now in the Dutch government, the threat of drastic livestock farming cuts has been lifted. “There is no aim to reduce the livestock population, and there will be no forced expropriations," said BBB’s Van der Plas. Instead, alternative anti-pollution measures are planned, including central government-led manure processing licensing in cooperation with local authorities and promoting greater cooperation between arable and livestock farmers for efficient manure spreading.

The coalition agreement also includes relaxed environmental regulations for farmers, cheaper diesel, and improved land access for young farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality will be renamed the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security, and Nature.

“Our farmers, gardeners, and fishermen should be cherished, as they are vital for our food supply, cultural landscape, and Dutch culture,” states the 26-page coalition agreement.

This pro-farmer stance likely means opposition to free-trade deals like the long-delayed agreement with South American countries, which many EU farmers oppose.

As an influential EU member state, the Netherlands' new pro-farmer stance will impact EU decision-making. The country is expected to push for reforms in the EU Nitrates Directive, potentially benefiting Irish farmers seeking to retain a nitrates derogation. Additionally, the new coalition plans to align nitrogen and phosphate standards in surface water with neighboring countries such as Belgium and Germany.