The path to sustainable housing systems in 2024

The stable measures are part of the Brabant Development Approach Nitrogen. They make a very important contribution to achieving the indicative targets set by the central government for the province. Elies Lemkes-Straver, Deputy Director for Agriculture and Food: “The sector is facing a lot, we are well aware that it is radical. It is clear that meeting the nitrogen targets is more urgent than ever. In the roadmap, we have outlined how we (entrepreneurs, province, municipalities, environmental services) can meet the housing requirements in 2024, which can make a significant contribution to this. Fortunately, we have invested in innovative stables for many years. And we are happy that the government funds are made available early so that farmers can invest in them. Our package gives livestock farming clarity and support to make choices aimed at future prospects: with support networks, communication, stimulating nature-inclusive and organic, access to state subsidies and financial incentives to apply for the permit in a timely manner.”

Benefit of timely application for permission

In order to be able to carry out the necessary barn adaptations in time, it is necessary for livestock farmers – as a first step – to apply for permission in good time. Because many livestock farmers still need to apply for their permit, this could lead to a peak in applications in the spring of 2023. Farmers who have submitted a full permit application between now and April 1, 2023, but do not have a permit in time, will receive a realistic deadline to apply to realize their stable adaptation. The stable requirements that apply at the time of application for a permit also apply to them, instead of the requirements that, as stated in the Environment and Planning Act, apply at the time the permit is issued. Financial incentives should help livestock farmers apply for their permits quickly.

Public funds for stable innovation available early

Many livestock farmers have to make a decision about the future of their business in the coming period. Such a decision can be financially drastic. Support networks and schemes to promote innovation and sustainable agriculture help livestock farmers make the right choice for their business. Elies Lemkes-Straver: “We have made an urgent appeal to the government to make concrete instruments and financial resources available in the short term. We are therefore pleased that our request has been granted by the LNV and that €45 million will be made available early so that farmers in Brabant have access to subsidies for their barn changes in time.”

Nature inclusive

The province has already included an exception for mandatory barn adaptation for nature-inclusive and organic farms, because they often already have a sustainable business operation. They also contribute to achieving soil and water quality targets. For farmers around Natura2000 and in the river valleys who are considering whether to make this switch but face a time constraint due to the location of their farm, the province is exploring options for guidance and support for dairy farmers. This should be clear by the end of 2022. In addition, the province makes extra money available for the Biodiversity Monitor. Livestock farmers can demonstrate that they are nature-inclusive via the Biodiversity Monitor. Thanks to this additional provincial investment, more livestock farmers across Brabant can make use of this. The subsidy scheme for Agriculture’s Nature and Landscape Management will also be opened during 2022. A subsidy that farmers can get if they manage their farmland in such a way that it protects and improves the environment for animals and plants. It is about 37 million EUR for different agricultural habitats and landscapes.

Stable systems available

Research has been carried out by independent experts into available housing systems for the various animal species. For some animal categories, there is not yet a source-oriented housing system with which all requirements for 2024 can be met. It has now been decided to adjust the ammonia reduction requirements for a number of small animal categories. This applies to beef and breeding steers kept on straw, certain free-range chickens, rabbits and broilers. Hagar Roijjackers, provincial director for water, nature and area-oriented approach: “The soil in many of our Brabant nature reserves is highly acidified by nitrogen. We need to address that. We are now giving a number of smaller livestock sectors a little more space to make feasible barn adaptations, which further reduces nitrogen emissions. As a board, we naturally have the bigger picture in mind: strengthening nature, combating drying out and restructuring agriculture. We do this, among other things, through the area-oriented approach.”

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