In a nation of under 18 million residents and over 116 million livestock, farming rules supreme.
As a major exporter of farming goods worldwide, and with half of its territory dedicated to agriculture, the Netherlands is widely viewed as an agri-food powerhouse, notwithstanding its modest size.
Community at Netherlands election
However, this in itself poses challenges. Specifically, nitrogen emissions At high levels, this chemical element poses a threat to both natural habitats and water quality, leading the Dutch government to establish a target of cutting emissions by 50% by 2030 following a pollution crisis in 2019.
Naturally, this puts it at odds with the Dutch agricultural sector, as nearly all human activities emit nitrogen, and in the Netherlands, farming accounts for half of all nitrogen production.
“Essentially, in the Netherlands, we face a nitrogen predicament for two main reasons, primarily due to our highly concentrated livestock in Europe and being one of the most densely populated regions,” highlighted Daan Bozeman from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency during an interview with news-in-europa.
“On the other hand, the Netherlands has taken a rather rigid stand in interpreting the European Habitats Directive, mandating nitrogen reduction elsewhere for every new activity.”Dutch farmers have been mandated to diminish their nitrogen impact or cede their land to the Dutch government.
A voluntary “buyout scheme” with a budget of €8 billion has been put in place.
However, the scheme has not garnered widespread support. Jan Arie Koorevaar, who operates a 90-hectare property in South Holland with 115 cows and produces almost 100% organic way 100 million liters of milk annually—believes the government should concentrate more on stimulating innovation rather than forcing farms to downsize.”Numerous farmers are apprehensive, as it is not clear to them what adjustments are required on their farms to meet the government’s expectations.”
Koorevaar expressed this to News-in-Europe.
“I also believe there are opportunities to reduce emissions for dairy farmers. If they receive financial assistance for implementing technological innovations, however, such measures are currently unavailable. Additionally, government support to expand your farm could also be beneficial.
For instance, providing assistance with land availability.”However, this issue has become contentious ahead of the upcoming elections in the country. While farmers are resisting the current measures, some political parties and environmental associations are advocating for more stringent regulations.
They are advocating for compulsory buyouts instead of voluntary ones, a 50% emissions reduction by 2030, and stricter livestock reduction targets.
We insist that the government supports farmers in transitioning to ecological farming by reducing animal numbers by 70% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 and aiding farmers or assisting the market in establishing a system that ensures farmers can make a good living by producing food for human consumption rather than primarily for animals,” stated Hilde Anna de Vries from Greenpeace Netherlands.