Photographer: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg

Turkey Protests Dutch Government by Returning 40 Holstein Cows

Two months after a Turkish butcher broke the Internet, the country's red meat producers are trying a novel way to break the Dutch government's resolve.

Members of the Ankara-based Beef and Lamb Producers Association have sent 40 Holstein cows back to the Netherlands to show their displeasure at a decision to prevent Turkish ministers from conducting political campaigning on their soil, the association’s chairman Bulent Tunc said in telephone interview. A fiery diplomatic spat has erupted between the two countries after the EU state, which is holding its own elections on Wednesday, refused access to Turkish ministers seeking to campaign on a referendum to expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

While Tunc called the number of cows being shipped away "symbolic," he spoke of widespread support for the Turkish president's stance among association members, who number 160,000. Those involved in the cattle trade are also considering putting a stop to purchases of tractors, equipment, feed and bull semen -- and extending the boycott to Austria, which Tunc accused of sharing the Dutch government's stance. 

"There are many alternatives," he said, citing Brazil and Romania as possibilities. "Turkey is a huge market for livestock imports and countries are dying to get in." 

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