Clogged Dutch motorway pic doesn't show NZ farming protest - Australian Associated Press
epa07884666 Farmers block the A28 Highway with their tractors between Hoogeveen and Meppel in The Netherlands, 01 October 2019. The farmers joined a national protest in The Hague. The demonstrators believe that the agricultural sector has too many social problems on its plate, from phosphate and nitrogen reduction to climate policy and animal welfare. EPA/Vincent Jannink

Clogged Dutch motorway pic doesn’t show NZ farming protest

AAP FactCheck July 19, 2021

The Statement

An Instagram post claims to show dozens of tractors blocking a main Auckland motorway as part of a major protest against various government policies that affect farmers.

The July 16 post includes an image of a long line of tractors blocking one site of a motorway. Its caption includes the text: “HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN AUCKLAND!!! When the government wants to take on the farmers.. this is what happens… the farmers are SHUTTING DOWN AUCKLAND CBD!!”

The same image was posted by multiple accounts in New Zealand at around the same time. One Facebook post included the photo with the caption: “AWESOME. Share to support them.” It had been shared more than 15,000 times at the time of writing.

An earlier post included the image alongside text previewing the planned farmers protest the next day, adding: “Should only be medium chaos on Auckland Motorway tomorrow.”

In addition, the photo was also used in an article about the farmers protest on the Australian Chinese-language website AusToday.com.au and on the BFD blog in a post republishing a New Zealand National Party press release.

The Instagram post
 A social media post claims an image of tractors jamming a motorway is of the NZ farmer protest. 

The Analysis

While thousands of tractors clogged roads in New Zealand in a mass protest this month, the image used in the Facebook post depicts a protest in the Netherlands nearly two years earlier.

The New Zealand protest on July 16 involved a convoy of tractors driving on State Highway One into Auckland, with the main roads south of the city reportedly gridlocked. Photos of the protest show tractors filling one lane of a motorway and blocking Auckland’s main street (see here and here).

Tractors also reportedly filled 55 cities and towns around the country, including a five kilometre-long convoy in Dunedin, where organisers estimated more than 700 tractors and utes took part.

The protest was organised by Groundswell NZ, a group which says it is made up of volunteer farmers and rural professionals who want to stop “unworkable regulations” aimed at reducing water pollution, greenhouse emissions and biodiversity loss.

However, the photo in the Facebook post doesn’t show the New Zealand protests and is taken from a national farming demonstration in the Netherlands.

The image was shot by Dutch photographer Vincent Jannink on October 1, 2019 for the European Pressphoto Agency. The photo caption says it shows farmers blocking the A28 highway between Hoogeveen and Meppel on their way to The Hague as part of a protest against farming regulations.

The photo was used widely in media coverage of the protests at the time, for example in the UK and Australia.

The image appears to have been reversed in the New Zealand posts, making it appear like the tractors are driving on the left-hand side of the road, as well as being cropped in a way that removes the Dutch signage. A close inspection of the photo in the posts reveals the numbers and letters on one of the tractor’s licence plates are backwards.

Farmers on their tractors between Hoogeveen and Meppel
 The 2019 EPA photo by Vincent Jannink showing farmers blocking the A28 Highway in The Netherlands. 

The Verdict

The photo in the post does not show the New Zealand farmer protest as claimed. Rather, the image is of a 2019 protest in the Netherlands, cropped and reversed from the original.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

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