A special new standard for a maximum number of cows per hectare of pasture must determine how many animals farmers are allowed to keep on their farm. This new standard – the so-called ‘grassland standard’ – is part of the draft text circulating about the Agricultural Agreement.
Several sources around the exciting negotiations for the Agricultural Agreement desired by Agriculture Minister Piet Adema confirm this to this news site. On Wednesday, the ChristenUnie minister hopes to reach an interim agreement with all parties after months of negotiations.
The negotiations are extremely complicated because the Ministry of LNV and the farmers have different ideas about this new grassland standard. It is important for the ministry to have a grip on the number of animals and their nitrogen emissions. “The grassland standard is part of the talks, but the last word has not yet been said about it,” explains a source close to the cabinet. Another source around the coalition also confirms that the Ministry of Agriculture would like to have this new standard in the interim agricultural agreement.
Farmers are extremely wary of a maximum number of animals per hectare. They prefer to keep the freedom to keep their emissions as low as possible through innovations and good management, but still keep enough animals to earn a good living.
“We aim to have a scenario tomorrow in which the parties are in broad agreement,” said Agriculture Minister Piet Adema through his spokesperson. “We really work day and night to ensure that an agreement is reached, with a good earning model for farmers and that is also good for water, air and soil quality.”
There will also be a new sustainability standard that farmers and market gardeners must adhere to, as confirmed by insiders after reporting RTL News. Supermarkets will only sell domestic products that meet these environmental and animal welfare requirements.
It is not yet known where the higher prices will end up, but sources say that these are not only borne by consumers. “The chain contributes to the higher prices,” said an insider. It is also specifically not about new quality marks, but about one sector-wide standard that the entire agriculture must comply with.
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Farmers will also do more in nature conservation, in exchange for compensation. This partly compensates for the depreciation of agricultural land.
Sources emphasize that this is a draft version of the agreement, which may still be refined. They did not say what amounts are involved.
Concept to trash
Agriculture and Horticulture Organization (LTO) rejected the draft text last week. This happened after negotiations at the so-called main table of the agricultural agreement. Substantial adjustments were necessary as far as LTO was concerned. The organization declined to comment on Tuesday.
Mark van den Oever, foreman of Farmers Defense Force (FDF), says in a first reaction that he is very skeptical about the plans. “I see the fall in value of the land as a problem. If you have a value decrease of 30,000 euros per hectare, then quite a lot of compensation has to be made,” says the activist. His club was not involved in the negotiations on the agricultural agreement.
FDF previously called on farmers to prepare for a new hard battle with the cabinet out of dissatisfaction with the plans. “I think we’ll all have to get going again soon. Prepare for battle,” said Van den Oever in a video message. FDF has indicated for some time that the cabinet offers no prospects for farmers.
The negotiating parties are expected to present the concept together on Wednesday. The plans are then passed on by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, after which the organizations present their plans to their supporters.
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