ChristenUnie: ‘Why is the nitrogen card not off the table?’

The coalition party ChristenUnie wants to know why the government has not removed the ‘infamous’ nitrogen map. The party calls for Prime Minister Mark 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 still wants to 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 reason for this was the Ministry of Finance’s official calculations. It states that the government’s approach can be cheaper, more efficient and less austere.

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

CDA: too much noise

The CDA states that the cabinet has ‘once 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’.

According to the CDA, the large amount of information shared with Parliament creates more obscurity and noise than the clarity requested by parliamentary colleagues. The Christian Democrats are also critical of the fact that ‘so many different signals are coming from the same cabinet’.

CDA is shocked by a quote in official documents showing that 11,200 livestock farms must 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 around 33,000 livestock farms, in 2010 there were around 48,000 and in 2000 there were still around 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, ‘how many companies in total are expected to close, including autonomous shrinkage, 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?’

BBB: care for the quality of life 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 provide an estimate of the number of people who are directly or indirectly employed in the companies, both in the primary companies, side branches and suppliers, and who must stop under 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.’

The nitrogen measures can also have negative consequences for the climate and the environment, fears Van der Plas. For example, residual flows from the vegetable food industry are used in animal feed.

‘Residual streams, which are currently used in animal feed and through the sought-after circular agriculture, are upgraded to food that can be used for humans, including high-quality proteins,’ says Van er Plas. ‘Can the minister state what happens to these residual flows if livestock farming decreases in numbers, as the Ministry of Finance has indicated, and what impact this has on the climate and the environment?’

VVD: shrinkage is not a goal

According to the VVD, the shrinking of livestock can never be an end in itself. VVD would therefore like to know whether the government still assumes that shrinkage can be a consequence of the nitrogen policy, but is 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. The party also emphasizes the importance of the ‘exchange decision’ in the approach to the National Program for Rural Areas. Initiatives can here be exchanged with alternatives in the area-oriented approach.

SGP: relates to forced acquisitions

The SGP is concerned about the level of “forced acquisitions” of holdings rather than voluntary closures. The Treasury states in the policy documents that €11.8 billion is available to reach the 74 per cent target by 2030, while voluntary buy-outs would require €43.1 billion and ‘only’ €10.4 billion for compulsory purchases.

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

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