The initiative group wants more government control for the farmers’ perspective

In order to offer farmers in transition a perspective, the government must intervene actively in the food market. This can be done by imposing a mandatory purchase of sustainably produced food on supermarkets and processing companies. This is one of the recommendations from the initiative group Regie op Ruimte in a report to the cabinet and nitrogen broker Johan Remkes.

Behind Regie op Ruimte stand well-known names in agriculture such as dairy farmer Alex Datema, former Minister of Agriculture Cees Veerman, farmer and administrator Frans Keurentjes, professor Jan Willem Erisman, dairy farmer Jos Verstraten, agricultural economist Krijn Poppe and Willem Lageweg from Food. Transitional coalition.

Datema is chairman of BoerenNatuur en Verstraten LTO dairy manager. They personally contributed to this report. The immediate reason for coming up with this point of view was the prospectus letter that Minister of Agriculture Henk Staghouwer sent in June, says Verstraten. “That letter was completely burnt down in the House of Representatives, and the farmers’ organizations also reacted with disappointment. We will use our own expertise and experience to show what such a perspective can look like.’

The government leans back

The initiators see a government that sets ambitious goals, but sits back when it comes to deepening the perspective for farmers. “If the transition is to be accelerated, then it requires guidance from a government that helps farmers go through it,” says Verstraten.

Government regulation is necessary, among other things, to increase sales of sustainably produced food. Force supermarkets and processors to buy a fixed percentage each year, the advice reads. A percentage that can be increased over the years and which should give farmers security of sale. The sustainable products are mixed in the conventional chain. The intention is to get the whole chain and all consumers to pay for the switch and not only depend on the group of consumers who buy organic or Better Life products. ‘We must avoid everything being passed on to the lowest price,’ says Verstraten.

The food a little more expensive

The Dutch Consumer and Market Authority could defend itself against such market agreements, but the initiative group points out that former Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten has created more space for sustainability agreements between the market parties. ‘Our food will be a little more expensive, but it is necessary to be able to take steps,’ says Datema.

For the many social demands and (natural) desires of land on the farm, a structural and long-term compensation is a prerequisite. This applies not only to sales prices, but also to nature management agreements.

get out of state

Datema: ‘If you can make a fifteen-year agreement on nature management, then you as a farmer can make a different choice and step out of the trend of ever more intensive and more productive production.’ Verstraten adds: ‘It should be an alternative to milking extra cows.’

Regie op Ruimte also believes that purchasing arrangements must be used much more flexibly. “The pressure on our agricultural system is high. Money is now available and it would be foolish not to seize the opportunity now. It could be much less under the next government’, suggests Datema. “Purchasing is now primarily aimed at stoppers and around Natura 2000 areas. We also propose giving farmers the opportunity to sell part of their rights to the public in order to create nitrogen space, so that they can continue less intensively and can focus on, for example, nature tasks.’

Datema and Verstraten emphasize that the recommendations from Regie op Ruimte are not an alternative to the government’s nitrogen plans. The goal is to develop a new economic perspective for those farmers who cannot make plans for the future now.

The lack of that perspective is the reason for the great opposition to the nitrogen policy, says Verstraten. ‘Because if you don’t see an alternative, then everything is a threat.’

Read the full advisory report from Regie op Ruimte below.

Leave a Comment