Did Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte try to "seize over 3000 farms" to "free land for immigrants" during the unsuccessful negotiations over immigration shortly before the government's collapse in July 2023? No, that's not true: The claim was first made on Tucker Carlson's show on Fox News a year before Rutte conceded that the members of his coalition couldn't reach a consensus on new immigration policy proposals that, contrary to the rumor, aimed to tighten rules, not to relax them. There is no evidence of a plan to seize farms.
The claim appeared in a 15-second video (archived here) published on TikTok on July 8, 2023. It contained what looked like a screenshot with a photo of a multi-lane highway filled with tractors, and text saying:
Netherlands... Mark Rutte has been forced to resign as his party no longer has control and they can not rein in immigration. Rutte was trying to seize over 3000 farms to free land for immigrants.
This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:
(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Jul 12 14:34:33 2023 UTC)
Described as a "veteran conservative on the European political scene" by Reuters, Rutte has been the longest-serving Dutch prime minister. In the summer of 2023, his government consisted of a coalition of four parties: two center-right parties (VVD and the Christian Democratic Appeal party) and two centrist parties (the Democrats 66 and Christian Union).
On July 7, 2023, the parties reached a stalemate over immigration laws, which led to the resignation of the cabinet.
In 2022, the number of asylum applications in the Neverlands grew by more than a quarter of the previous year, reaching 47,991 petitions. According to the government's estimate, this figure may increase to 70,000 in 2023.
Official resources say that the acceptance rate of 85 percent for first-time asylum seekers in the Netherlands is high "compared to other EU countries."
While it was Rutte who pushed for the new policy changes, they were not in favor of immigrants.
Reuters reported that one of his suggestions was to make family members, including children, of refugees already in the Netherlands wait at least two years before they could come to the country.
The Associated Press described two other of Rutte's ideas:
Proposals reportedly included creating two classes of asylum -- a temporary one for people fleeing conflicts and a permanent one for people trying to escape persecution -- and reducing the number of family members who are allowed to join asylum-seekers in the Netherlands.
There is no indication that the supposed seizure of "over 3000 farms" was a part of the discussed measures during the days leading up to the government's collapse.
A search for the keywords "3000 boerderijen" and "immigranten" ("3000 farms" and "immigrants") on the website of the Dutch Senate does not produce any results.
A search for the same terms across pending bills on the website of the Dutch House of Representatives doesn't show anything either.
The claim conflated two topics -- immigration and farmers' protests, which intensified in 2022 in response to a new policy aimed to reduce nitrogen emissions. Both are major themes in the European far-right agenda. They are not directly related.
Logically, a British startup specializing in the analysis of disinformation, wrote that one of the public figures who promoted the narrative about the seizure of "3000 farms" was Eva Vlaardingerbroek, a Dutch activist once affiliated with the far-right group the Forum for Democracy (FVD.)
On July 10, 2022, one year before the post that is the focus of this fact check was published, Vlaardingerbroek said the Dutch government was "stealing" the land from farmers during her appearance on Tucker Carlson's show on Fox News, adding at the 3:55 mark:
It is very clear that the government is not doing it because of the nitrogen crisis. They are doing this because they want these farmers' land, and they want it to house new immigrants.
While the government did offer buyouts to the farmers, the policies still allowed people to make a different choice; for example, to modernize their farms, and the measures were decided separately from immigration policies.
The farmers' protests were supported by former President Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, a far-right former presidential candidate in France. A report from The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism highlighted the strong influence of conspiracy theorists who capitalized on what started as a series of local rallies.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about the farmers' protest can be found here.