Police move to end Dutch farmer protests

FILE PHOTO: Farmers use their tractors to block a highway near the border with the Netherlands in Arendonk

BRUSSELS/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch police moved on Monday to end demonstrations by farmers who disrupted traffic throughout the Netherlands by blocking exit roads of highways and setting fires along those roads.

Angered by low prices for their produce, rising costs, cheap imports and environmental regulations imposed by the European Union, farmers have blocked roads with their tractors and set fires to disrupt traffic since last week.

Images on social media showed burning piles of hay and tires at various places around the Netherlands.

Police said they were trying to disrupt the protests and hold those seen to be breaking the law, but added this was not always possible "as our presence is needed at many places at the same time."

"Fires were lit, fireworks were set off and tractors are riding on the highway," the police force of the central province of Gelderland said in a statement on X.

"This has led to unsafe situations, which we take very seriously."

Earlier on Monday, Belgian and Dutch farmers used dozens of tractors to block the Dutch-Belgian motorway border crossing between Maastricht and Liege, following similar actions on Friday at various border crossings.

Several other countries in Europe have seen similar protests by farmers in recent weeks.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Stephen Coatees)