PM Rutte says he can't take away farmers' concerns; Meeting with mediator today
Prime Minister Mark Rutte had a “good conversation” with a dairy farmer in Koudum in Friesland on Thursday afternoon, but there is “great concern.” Like the two previous conversations he had with farmers elsewhere in the country, this one was intense. “The concerns are also great, and I cannot take them away,” Rutte said. On Friday, mediator Johan Remkes and part of the Cabinet will meet with farmers’ organizations.
Rutte said he understands farmers’ concerns. He explained that the Cabinet is working on the issue of nitrogen reduction and the problems around water and particulate matter. “It is important in this country to have a strong farming sector, but also to ensure that we preserve nature. These are interests that have to be in good balance.”
On Friday morning, Rutte and Ministers Christianne van der Wal (Nature and Nitrogen) and Henk Staghouwer (Agriculture), led by Johan Remkes, will speak with several farmers’ organizations, including LTO Nederland. Other farmers’ organizations like Agractie and Farmers Defense Force have rallied behind LTO. Rutte expects that fists will be raised and content discussed in that meeting. “There’s a lot of irritation.”
It is an important conversation, said Rutte. “It’s the first time we get together.” He would not answer any further questions. “I’m not going to say anything about that. I want to give the conversation a chance.” Rutte also wouldn’t explain what it means that there is “no taboo,” as he and Remkes have promised farmers in recent days.
The Prime Minister “certainly takes insights” from the three conversations he had with farmers in recent weeks. He doesn’t want to say much about that either. “What farmers attach great importance to is that there must be fair opportunities to earn their living in a fair way.”
Reporting by ANP