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‘Farmer Wants a Wife’ contestant to become Dutch agriculture minister

by editor

A former contestant on TV reality show “Farmer Wants a Wife,” who went on to marry the dairy farmer she met on the program, is set to become the next agriculture minister in the Netherlands government as far-right populist Geert Wilders fills cabinet posts in his four-party coalition.

Femke Wiersma, a 39-year-old regional official in Friesland, is a founding member of the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) — a protest party launched in 2019 that turned Dutch politics on its head when it came from nowhere to win provincial elections in March 2023.

The BBB will fill the top two jobs at a rebranded Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Nature, with retired agriculture official Jean Rummenie, 71, serving as state secretary, according to news reports.

As Wilders struggled to form a coalition government after winning a general election last November, the BBB — which won seven seats — swung behind him in February. In return, it won a commitment to roll back outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s plan to slash nitrogen emissions by reducing livestock numbers and closing farms. 

Last month’s coalition pact pledged to overhaul the nitrogen rules to allow farmers to spray more manure on their fields and to prevent forced farm takeovers.

The Netherlands has been Ground Zero in recent years for the emergence of more militant, right-leaning rural politics. The creation in 2019 of the Farmers Defence Force helped drive the rise of the BBB and inspired copycat movements in Belgium, Germany, France and Poland that fueled protests against EU farm policies this year.

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