Over half of livestock farmers must close or shrink in nitrogen strategy
Over half of the Netherlands’ livestock farmers will have to close or significantly reduce their livestock under the Cabinet’s current nitrogen strategy, NRC reports based on calculations from the Ministry of Finance published at the request of parliamentarians.
The Netherlands counts about 40,000 to 50,000 farms with livestock. According to the Ministry of Finance’s calculations, 11,200 will have to close, and 17,600 will have to significantly reduce their livestock, by a third to almost half.
The Cabinet’s goal is to reduce nitrogen emissions to such an extent by 2030 that almost 75 percent of the Netherlands’ Natura 200 reserves are below the critical deposition value - the nitrogen level considered safe for nature. The Cabinet made 24.3 billion euros available to achieve this goal.
The current nitrogen strategy states that the agriculture sector must reduce its nitrogen emissions by 39 kilotons in the coming decade. The government wants to spread the pain over the entire agricultural sector. But if it chose a more targeted approach, the emission reduction can be lowered to 30 kilotons, the Finance officials calculated. Then 11,200 farmers will still have to close, but only 200, not 17,600, will have to shrink.
The targeted approach focuses on the farmers who emit the most nitrogen or are located closest to sensitive natural areas. It also places more emphasis on buying out or expropriating farmers - a very sensitive topic within the agricultural sector and among politicians.