Organic farmers could be spared in nitrogen policy, Minister says
Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal and the Cabinet will look into whether it is possible to spare organic farmers when tackling the nitrogen crisis. “There are many organic farmers in the Netherlands who made the switch years ago. They, therefore, emit much less nitrogen,” she said after discussing this with nature organizations and nitrogen mediator Johan Remkes at the provincial government house in Den Bosch on Monday.
Farmers have to make a change, agreed Hank Bartelink of Stichting LandschappenNL, one of the organizations that joined the discussion. “The nitrogen crisis shows that agriculture has been at a dead end for years. Current agriculture is finite, and we must look at other forms.” He stressed that it is also essential for farmers that nature be restored. “So we are not diametrically opposed to each other. The farmers also benefit from healthy nature.”
“Don’t mess with the nitrogen targets,” emphasized Teo Wams, director of Nature Management at Natuurmonumenten. He thinks it would be nice for farmers if they finally know where they stand. “This policy creates uncertainty for farmers, and also, for example, when building houses. Moreover, nature cannot tolerate it. Ecosystems are about to collapse.”
Wams said that he was worried when he headed to the provincial government house in Den Bosch. “The nitrogen targets have already been set. But still, it was necessary to have this conversation ‘without taboos’ with farmers, mediator Remkes, and the Cabinet. That made us worried.” Ultimately, he said that he came out of the conversation reassured.
Remkes called the discussion “a meaningful exercise.” Most other nature organizations are also satisfied. Mobilization for the Environment (MOB) called it a good conversation, as did Milieudefensie and others. Though many organizations had hoped that Prime Minister Mark Rutte would be present because he was at the meeting with the farmers over a week ago.
Greenpeace director Andy Palmen said he still lacks a sense of urgency in the government officials. “There is only talk about making plans and working toward 2030. Nature is already about to collapse in 2025. Ecologists are screaming murder and fire, then you have to intervene now, and I just don’t see that in the Cabinet.” The organization warned of legal action if the Cabinet watered the nitrogen targets down. That did not happen yet. “We are monitoring the entire file with legal suspicion.”
Reporting by ANP