National Farmers’ Union president says the sector in in ‘crisis'

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A leaked document released in September from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) commissioned by the Dutch ministries of agriculture and finance sparked a political debate in the country over the future of intense farming.

Dutch farmers are the world’s second-biggest exporters by value after the United States.

In order to adhere to climate change policies, dictated by the EU’s Habitats Directive, by the European Court of Justice in 2019 and enhanced by the EU’s Green Deal, Dutch farmers are facing hard decisions.

Emissions of phosphates and nitrogen from packed herds mean the country is almost surpassing the margins permitted by the EU regulations.

The document leaked in September revealed that the Dutch government was thinking of buying out farmers in a compulsory manner.

The plans were dismissed by the government as a “last resort scenario” but they sparked controversy among the industry.

To make things worse, this year, in a bid to reduce animal numbers, the government issued a plan where pig farms could apply for voluntary buyout schemes. Only 278 were eligible out of 430.

Dutch farmers blame the government over the conundrum, arguing it is on the lookout to buy cheap land.

Jeroen de Groot, a Dutch dairy farmer, told Politico: “It’s something to hold over our heads if we don’t move with the political winds.

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“They’re putting us against the clock, whilst I’m moving as fast as I can.”

He added: “With the new system, we aim to emit about half of what we do now, but not so I can legally buy more cows but to be able to sell the permit space to other farmers and cut down emissions across the sector.”

He continued: “This is the next generation of emissions reduction systems, and it will work 100 percent.

“If this doesn’t pass the bar, it is not due to the project but due to institutional unwillingness.

“To me, it seems the government is just out to acquire cheap land.”

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But Nexit enthusiasts are increasingly pointing the finger at the EU.

Nexit Denktank campaigners said: “The Habitats Directive of the EU and rulings of the EU Court make life impossible for Dutch farmers.

“According to rumours, the Dutch government wants to expropriate Dutch farmers. They are blamed for the nitrogen problem.

“To my surprise, the Dutch farmers are demonstrating against the Dutch government in the Netherlands, when the source of this problem is really the EU.

“Our great farmers are better off demonstrating in Brussels or Luxembourg at the EU. The Brussels bureaucrats are causing this.

“The Netherlands is the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world. We do not depend on anyone for food and other countries depend on us to be fed.

“The EU seems to want to tear it all down so that we can no longer be an independent country.

“If our wonderful farmers are being chased away by EU policies, which of course are dutifully followed by our Europhile government, where are they going? They may go to countries where farmers are welcome.

“Will that stop the emission of nitrogen on the earth? No.

“If we do eventually leave the EU, our strong agriculture will give us leverage if the EU tries to bully us like they did to the British during the Brexit negotiations.

“The EU needs us more than we need them. We feed other EU countries.”

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