More nitrogen polluters to be targeted; Most farmers claim no negative influence on environment
The Cabinet is reportedly working on a new plan that will tackle nitrogen emissions from seven times as many farmers as originally targeted, according to the FD. At the same time, a majority of Dutch farmers do not think they have a negative impact on the environment, the AD reports.
The original plan to address the nitrogen crisis involved buying out or otherwise targeting 500 to 600 farmers. Now, however, new figures have emerged concerning the emissions of so-called "PAS-melders," or farmers who have been allowed to emit ammonia without a permit. This means that targets proposed by nitrogen broker Johan Remkes –– to which farmers already reacted negatively –– fall short, according to the FD.
Remkes has indicated that farmers are aware of the nitrogen crisis in the Netherlands and want something to be done. However, six in 10 farmers surveyed said that they hadn't foreseen nitrogen measures and more than 65 percent completely or partially disagree that their sector has a negative effect on climate, nature and the environment, according to the AD.
This is despite a scientific consensus that excess nitrogen is harmful to nature reserves or that livestock can cause environmental damage. Neuropsychologist Margriet Sitskoorn told the AD that farmers' perception of unfair treatment by the government could impede them with agreeing with what science says. “The pain is too great for that. This is about livelihood, the life you worked hard for and the future of family," she said.
Bart Kemp of Agractie told the AD that the main problem was the government's approach to solving the crisis. Remkes also said that farmers are tired after years of "failing and faltering government policy."
The fact remains that 84 percent of farmers believe they are doing their part for sustainability in the Netherlands. Jaap Korteweg, who was an arable farmer for 20 years before founding a meat substitute company, said this is a "human" response. "No one wants to say that he is doing something that is not good.”