CU: ‘Why isn’t the nitrogen card off the table?’

The coalition party ChristenUnie wants to know why the government has not taken the ‘infamous’ nitrogen card off the table. The party calls for Prime Minister Rutte to apologize for the publication. ‘Do you recognize that this map, intended as a helpful tool, has failed and has led to unnecessary and unwanted great turmoil?’

The party asks if the government will withdraw the card and emphasizes that the card has not only led to unrest in agriculture, but also to other unwanted consequences. For example, banks are reluctant to grant loans to farmers in areas where a high level of reduction has been signed.

Political parties in the House of Representatives had until Tuesday to send their written questions to the government about the nitrogen approach. The background was the official calculations from the Ministry of Finance, which states that the government’s nitrogen approach can be cheaper, more efficient and less strict.

Room for noise

The CDA notes that the cabinet has ‘again failed’ to communicate clearly about the nitrogen approach ‘so that there is no room for noise, or that plans, calculations or notes cannot be interpreted differently’. ‘The sheer volume of information that has been shared with Parliament creates more obscurity and noise than the clarity that other MPs had asked for.’ The Christian Democrats are also critical of the fact that ‘so many different signals are coming from the same cabinet’.

Different parties want to clarify why the government is sticking to a reduction of 39 kilotons. According to the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency, 30 kilotons of ammonia reduction is sufficient, and according to ‘nitrogen professor’ Jan Willem Erisman, the targets can also be achieved with a reduction of between 23 and 25 kilotons.

Close businesses

The CDA is shocked by a quote in one of the official documents showing that 11,200 livestock farms should stop. CDA assumes that an error has been made here and that the autonomous contraction of the sector that has already started is included. In 2020 there were still approximately 33,000 livestock farms, in 2010 there were approximately 48,000 and in 2000 there were still approximately 63,000. CDA would like to know if this is correct. ‘Or is it actually the case that 11,200 farmers will have to stop working until 2030, just because of the nitrogen policy?’, the CDA wants to know.

‘If that is the case’, the Christian Democrats continue in their question, ‘how many are expected to stop in total, including autonomic decline, and is there an overlap between them? If so, how much? And what are the consequences of this gigantic contraction on the amount of food produced in the Netherlands?’

Living in the countryside

Member of Parliament Caroline van der Plas from BBB wonders what effect the plans will have on the quality of life in the countryside. ‘Can the minister state how many people who work – directly or indirectly – in the companies, both in the primary companies, side branches and suppliers, will have to stop in the current scenario? Both the employees who work at the primary company and possibly at the side branches and at suppliers such as feed suppliers, mechanization companies and customers.

Van der Plas fears that the nitrogen measures could also have negative consequences for the climate and the environment. For example, residual flows from the vegetable food industry are used in animal feed. “Residual streams, which are currently used in animal feed and via the highly sought-after circular agriculture, are upgraded to food that can be used by humans, including high-quality proteins. Can the minister state what will happen to these residual flows if the livestock sector decreases in numbers, as the Ministry of Finance has indicated, and what impact this has on the climate and the environment?’

Don’t reduce the target

According to the VVD, the shrinking of livestock can never be an end in itself. VVD would therefore like to know whether the cabinet is still based on the principle that shrinkage can be a consequence of the nitrogen policy, but never a goal in itself.

The Liberals also consider it important that the provinces retain the freedom to sometimes deviate from national goals if this is important in one area to achieve other goals as well. In addition, the party emphasizes the importance of the so-called ‘exchange decision’ in the approach to the National Program for Rural Districts. Initiatives can here be exchanged with alternatives in the area-oriented approach.

Compulsory purchase

Finally, the Stability and Growth Pact is concerned about the degree of “forced buy-outs” of holdings rather than voluntary closures. The Ministry of Finance states in the policy documents that €11.8 billion is available to reach the 74 percent target by 2030 and that for voluntary purchases, while €43.1 billion is needed to reach this target and for compulsory purchases ‘only’ 10.4 billion euros.

‘SGP’s members conclude from this that if the government maintains both the 2030 target and the available procurement budget, it should mainly be a forced purchase if the government wants to achieve its target.’ The reformed parties cannot reconcile this with previous statements about as much voluntary acquisition as possible. SGP therefore wants to know how the cabinet will ensure that as much voluntary acquisition as possible continues.

Leave a Comment