‘Government must answer questions about environmental ambitions’

The government has high environmental ambitions, but these raise many questions for entrepreneurs. It is high time the questions were answered, says Tineke de Vries.

The new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will enter into force on 1 January 2023, with the start of the Seventh Action Program for the Nitrates Directive. Then we still have some time, you might be thinking. But nothing could be further from the truth. Preparations for the construction plan for 2024 are starting now.

When I ask colleagues if they know what the new CAP is about, I get three types of answers. Most people know that more needs to be done for less, but what is still a question mark. A small number of people are very much wondering how they can score on the goals of the eco-coordination, and I meet colleagues who no longer find the CAP money worthwhile in terms of cost.

Severe reactions

All three reactions are serious and have one thing in common: the greener efforts demanded by the EU are not achieved and the farmer’s income falls again. It is even harder to trade on the nitrate action program if possible. This brings me to the following five questions for the government:

The point is that we have far too many green ambitions in this country

Tineke de Vries, LTO department chairman Agriculture and open-air vegetables

1. Our sector has put forward concrete proposals to improve the eco-regulation of the CAP, making it accessible to more growers. Due to the lack of capacity of the Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority (NVWA), these can not be included. In addition, growers find it difficult to score on ‘landscape’ and ‘biodiversity’. What will the government do about this?

2. Why we still do not know which crops are exempt from ‘1. the October rule ‘? And where is the scientific guideline that water boards can determine where cultivation-free zones are needed?

3. Can the government specify how we should act if a cultivation-free zone is not required for the sake of water quality, but it is necessary to participate in the CAP? While the action program governs the CAP. And what if you now participate in the tailor-made approach, which in principle gives you an alternative to buffer strips? Do you still meet the CAP conditions?

In recent months, together with a large number of parties, we have worked very hard on the tailor-made approach as an alternative to the generic measures in the Seventh Action Program. Security and enforcement seems to be the bottleneck. Once again, the capacity of NVWA and the Dutch business agency is the limiting factor. Government, how will you address this?

5. Cooperation between agriculture and livestock farming is one of the cornerstones of circular agriculture that the government wants. Land-related livestock farming can also be achieved earlier in this way. Can the government explain to these entrepreneurs how they can put together the common building plan puzzle for the sake of the common agricultural policy, the action program and the desire for land-based livestock farming with a significant part of (permanent) grassland? They no longer see it for themselves.

I can think of many questions that way. The point is that we in this country have far too many green ambitions, we have created a paper reality, and that everything must be legally boarded up. I am curious about the perspective letter from the Minister of Agriculture Henk Staghouwer. I expect concrete proposals to improve farmers’ incomes, but I do not put my money on it.

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