Van der Wal: this year no pressure yet to buy out farmers

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Government party D66 wants to speed up the mandatory buy-out of farmers, the cabinet is not there yet
NOS News

The cabinet does not want to force farmers to stop their business this year. Minister Van der Wal for Nature and Nitrogen first looks at what livestock companies want to do with their farms on a voluntary basis. Only in a subsequent phase will a “coercive set of instruments” be considered.

“That is after 2023”, the minister made clear in the House of Representatives debate about the approach to the so-called peak loaders. These are about 3000 farmers and other companies that emit a lot of nitrogen and therefore affect nature. “We do it phase after phase. Step one is the voluntary buy-out and then we look at the situation in each area and whether mandatory instruments are needed.”

Government party D66 in particular wants farmers to be forced to reduce their livestock more quickly. D66 MP De Groot wants the cabinet to start with “the mandatory set of instruments”, such as expropriation, in November.

Track

Van der Wal mainly focuses on voluntariness, because she believes this also works the fastest. Farmers then receive a financial compensation and cooperate more easily. In case of coercion, a livestock farmer can go to court and a buyout can take years. “You create speed with a voluntary track. Obligation can take years,” says Van der Wal. “Coercion is a stick behind the door.”

The cabinet is in a hurry, because the implementation of the plan to reduce total nitrogen emissions by 50 percent by 2030 has already been delayed considerably. Because so much damage has been caused to nature, all kinds of construction projects are now on hold. Because nitrogen is also emitted during construction and that is no longer allowed.

‘Put a dent in the butter’

The House of Representatives is concerned that “the Netherlands is locked”, as the stagnant construction projects are called. In April, Minister Van der Wal will provide information about financial arrangements for peak loaders and other farms. The minister says that there will be a “substantially attractive scheme” for everyone who helps to limit the harmful nitrogen. “Then we can put a dent in a carton of butter.”

But that scheme is only open for a limited time, also to keep the pressure on. “Voluntary is not optional.”

  • VVD and CDA in provinces defy national line with resistance to nitrogen policy
  • Clarity about ‘peak loaders’ in nitrogen file only in April
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