Advice: ‘Fix the agricultural market and supplement long-term ecosystem services with compensation’

Only if the government corrects the market and supplements it in the long term with compensation for ecosystem services, will there be a prospect of future-proof business operations for farmers. In this way, the government will stand beside the farmer instead of against him in reaching ambitious goals in the areas of climate, nitrogen, biodiversity, water, air quality and human and animal health. This is the core of advice from the initiative group for spatial planning to both the cabinet and all other organizations involved.

The market is failing

The major problems in both nature and farmers have everything to do with the fact that sustainability is currently not sufficiently rewarded by the market. There is a system problem. The market now focuses primarily on price and large volumes. Utilities, industry and supermarkets are trapped in a low-cost model. Both the farmer and nature are the losers from this.

At the same time, farmers are expected to make a significant contribution to significant emission reductions and to promoting biodiversity and an attractive rural area from a social, ecological and legal point of view. This requires a fundamentally different approach to agricultural and food production. The government has an important guiding and guiding role in this.

Next to the farmer not opposite the farmer

The initiative group Regie op Ruimte, a group of farmers, administrators and experts brought together by the Food Transition Coalition, proposes in its report Future seeks Boer how things can be done differently.

To this end, an integrated long-term vision is expected from the government. She must stand next to the farmer and not opposite the farmer. The farmer must be strengthened much more to be able to contribute to the new social and ecological requirements. The initiative group argues that the government should correct the market so that the farmer is paid for his efforts for sustainability. This can be done in several ways. For example, the government could oblige the agro and food industry to mix a significant proportion of sustainable raw materials into their products, as has been done with gasoline for years. This increases the demand for sustainable products, increases the price of sustainable agricultural products and gives farmers a better income.

In addition, the public must structurally pay for ecosystem services. These are services that promote the quality of the climate and nature. These public contributions must be made available in the long term. They can be supplemented with extra rewards or discounts from water boards, land lessors, industry and financiers. This too can structurally provide more income for the farmer.

Certification

In order to realize all this properly, a far-reaching certification of agricultural enterprises based on critical performance indicators is required. It allows the farmer to steer towards a business model that is as sustainable as possible and towards emission levels that meet the targets applicable to the area in which he is located. The more sustainable the business, the more the farmer is rewarded for this.

It is also of great importance that the government makes a significant contribution to good and independent support for farmers in order to make the change required of them. A growing number of often area-oriented organizations and knowledge institutions are already doing good work here. They have the farmer’s trust. The government should give such bottom-up initiatives a huge boost in the long run. A number of farmers’ organizations are developing proposals for this under the name Farmer’s Perspective, which are now being discussed with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

Presentation

The Future seeks Farmer report was presented to the government today. The report was also presented to all other parties involved in the debate on the future of agriculture, such as farmer and nature organizations and provinces. The report was also presented to Mr Remkes, who is currently trying to bring parties together to break the deadlock over agriculture, nature and nitrogen policy.

Members of the initiative group Regie op Ruimte are: Alex Datema (milk producer), Cees Veerman (former Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality), Frans Keurentjes (farmer and administrator), Jan Willem Erisman (professor), Jos Verstraten (dairy). farmer), Krijn Poppe (agricultural economist) and Willem Lageweg (Food Transition Coalition).

The initiative group has previously put forward proposals in this area via a broadly approved manifesto that was approved by more than 300 organizations last year: https://transitioncoalitievoeding.nl/direction-of-space/

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