Nearly 500 livestock farmers have registered for the voluntary buyout scheme, including 300 peak loaders. Minister Van der Wal of Nature and Nitrogen said this in the House of Representatives. That does not immediately mean that all these livestock farmers will actually be bought out, says Van der Wal. “There is certainly interest, but it says nothing about the success of the approach.”
The buyout scheme means that peak loaders, who emit a lot of nitrogen near a vulnerable nature reserve, can be bought out for 120 percent of the value of their company. Other livestock farmers can receive up to 100 percent of the value of their company. Farmers who are bought out must really stop and cannot continue their business elsewhere in the Netherlands. There are also other schemes, but not all of them have been opened yet.
About 39,000 agricultural entrepreneurs have calculated which schemes they are eligible for, says Van der Wal. “Almost 500 of them have indicated that they want to further investigate whether they want to make use of a termination scheme.”
From the almost 500 registrations it can be concluded that there is serious interest among farmers to stop their business, but they can also change their mind. During the first buyout scheme in 2022, the number of farmers who ultimately concluded an agreement with the government turned out to be disappointing: only 20 of the 750 farmers who were eligible signed for the buyout scheme.
Farmers must agree to the value at which their farm is assessed. If they do not agree to the amount, they can withdraw. “It really is a long process,” says Van der Wal. “It’s not like you can sign a signature from Monday to Tuesday.” In addition, the choice is up to the farmers themselves, the minister emphasizes.
Spread across the Netherlands, 3,001 companies have been designated as peak loads. These are not only farmers but also other major emitters of nitrogen. Steel manufacturer Tata Steel, Schiphol Airport and chemical company Dow Benelux top the list of peak loads.
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In May this year, the European Commission approved the government’s plans to tackle major nitrogen emitters in livestock farming. This also meant that it became possible to buy out ‘peak loaders’, so that emissions can be reduced considerably in the short term.
Brussels called the arrangements “necessary and appropriate” and in line with the goals of the European Green Deal. The fact that Brussels gave the green light was important for Dutch nitrogen policy. If a large part of the peak loads stop, nature can recover and achieving the nitrogen targets will come a lot closer.
The buyout scheme closes in April next year.
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