Young farmers raise the issue of nitrogen with deputation: “Without us, politicians will have to produce their own food”

A delegation of young farmers went to the Boeverbos Provincial House in Bruges this morning to open discussions with a number of deputies. They laid out their own plan to reduce nitrogen and handed over some overalls to the politicians. “Because if young farmers are no longer allowed to farm, our MPs will soon have to do it themselves.”

The nitrogen problem has been gripping the entire agricultural world for months. Companies threaten to be forced to close or make large investments in order to live up to the strict standards, something that affects many (young) farmers.

The Green Circle West Flanders therefore went this morning to Boeverbos Provincial House in Bruges to enter into dialogue with some members of the deputation. Bart Naeyaert, Jurgen Vanlerberghe and Jean de Bethune received the delegation, led by Provincial President Nicolas Dehaemers of Gistel and Anzegem Vice President Ward Colman.

“We want to make our contribution to achieving the natural goals, let it be clear,” it read. “In order to preserve this valuable and primary sector, it is crucial that the needs of nature and the individuality of the agricultural sector are optimally matched.”

The limited influx of young farmers and the pressure on profitability will only increase because of what lies ahead. The government currently has no idea what damage it is causing – Ward Colman, Vice President Groene Kring West Flanders

To achieve this, according to the young farmers in Groene Kring, the nitrogen policy must follow a number of principles.

“We are striving for one young farmer sample† Opportunities for young farmers to undertake, develop, invest and innovate must not be suppressed. Without young farmers, the future of the agricultural sector is further mortgaged. Therefore, look at all the parts and the whole with the eyes of a young farmer and mitigate the impact where necessary and where possible. “

Binding nature goals

We must also look beyond 2030, they say. “The ultimate target date is 2050. Using 2030 as a symbolic middle date does not take sufficient account of demographic trends in the sector and practical barriers for farmers. We must ensure that young farmers, who will still be farming after 2045, have security throughout the period. ”

Green Circle also wants binding nature goals† ”A heavy effort from agriculture alone will not be enough to achieve the natural goals. This gigantic tour de force must be countered by a performance obligation for the nature management. Once the nitrogen target is reached, good conservation should follow quickly. In return for a budget of billions of euros, society currently has no guarantee of success. “

Groene Kring West-Vlaanderen, with provincial chairman Nicolas Dehaemers on the far left and deputy chairman Ward Colman on the far right, deputies Jurgen Vanlerberghe, Bart Naeyaert and Jean de Bethune donated some overalls. © PVH

It should be there too options to be for companies without a resort. “In any case, this whole story will have serious consequences for the agricultural sector. Due to the diversity of farms and the fragmentation of nature reserves, businesses will get stuck. A future-oriented agriculture without prospects deserves to receive the necessary support and guidance. Possibly through a voluntary buy-out scheme. ”

West Flanders has traditionally been an agricultural province and will remain so. You are a vital part of our economy – Deputy Bart Naeyaert

As a final point, Groene Kring asks new techniques on to research† ”For young farmers, entrepreneurship and development opportunities are important aspects of a nitrogen policy. But to ensure these development opportunities, it is important that we reduce nitrogen. The government must therefore focus on financial and administrative support for the development and use of new techniques. ”

Do not kill me

In recent years, Grøne Kring has often called for a well-considered nitrogen policy. “Not only must the nature goals be taken into account, but also the perspective and occupational security of the farmers must be taken into account. Due to the particularly persistent efforts and lack of opportunities, a generation of young farmers is in danger of being lost. ”

“No policy should aim to kill an economically and strategically important sector. Farmers earn a fair income and are vital to our food supply. The limited influx of young farmers and the pressure on profitability will only increase as a result of this agreement. The government has at present at the moment no idea what damage it is doing. “


The imposed targets per sector lead to a lot of uncertainties, it continues. ‘The goal of cattle is very unclear. Furthermore, if the sector target is not achieved by 2026, there is a risk that these farms will suffer from a general reduction in livestock farming. It does not give young farmers the necessary basis and security to start a takeover or investment. ”

Due to the particularly persistent efforts and lack of opportunities, a generation of young farmers is in danger of being lost – Nicolas Dehaemers, President of Groene Kring West Flanders

“Pig and poultry farms, on the other hand, are obliged to build new stables. Many techniques can not be implemented on existing stables. This is not only contrary to the freedom of choice for certain business models, but is also structurally impossible to implement by 2030. “

Review buyout arrangement

The buy-out schemes must also be reconsidered, the organization believes. “Pig breeders are facing a particularly serious crisis. The proposed redemption scheme seemed to provide an answer to this, but the current agreement leaves young farmers out in the cold three times: Liquidity support is not provided to permanent pig farmers, young companies with a current loan can not repay their debt with proposed redemption amounts and the reduction obtained by resigning, is not passed on to the remaining.

During the initial protests, Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) was mainly hit.
During the initial protests, Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) was mainly targeted. © BELGA

“Although there is a voluntary buy-out scheme for dark orange companies, the other orange companies have been forgotten. Because there is a real chance that the focus will be on these companies after 2030, it is incomprehensible that there is no alternative to all orange companies. ”

The province shows understanding

Deputies showed understanding for the complaints of the young farmers. “West Flanders has traditionally been an agricultural province and will remain so,” Bart Naeyaert stressed. “There is no discussion about that. It is also a vital part of our economy: in terms of turnover, in terms of employment, but also in terms of added value. Just think of our strong agro-industry. “


“That’s why we want to take a common position from the province across all political groups. This is an important file and you are making valid points. Innovation plays a big role and maybe we should think about development zones for farms, just like us “We can not solve everything from West Flanders, but we want to take the lead.”

Jurgen Vanlerberghe emphasizes the desire for legal certainty and perspective for the entire sector. “Because your subject is very important. There must also be room for innovation and trial & error in a controlled environment. In addition, I also think that agricultural organizations and nature associations should talk to each other, find each other more than is the case at the moment. In any case, we will continue to enter into dialogue with you. ”


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