News Edam-Volendam, Landsmeer, Purmerend and Waterland

Lawyer Martin Schilder criticizes what he sees as ‘illegal’ government policy towards farmers and fishermen. And the current nitrogen approach from the Dutch government. De Volendammer knows everything about the European legislation behind Natura2000, as well as about European agricultural and fisheries legislation with regard to food supply. According to him, food becomes even more expensive for every farmer and fisherman that the government cleans up.

Painter thought it was time for action and worked throughout the fair weekend to write a scientific paper on the subject. That article is now on the agenda in various legal journals, which, according to him, are widely read in the political Hague. The lawyer obtained his doctorate two years ago on the topic ‘The consequences of the tradability of fishing rights’. In addition to this theme, he now also tackles the nitrogen problem, as he works full-time as a university lecturer, as a researcher at the Open University and as a freelance consultant at Deloitte.

Schilder explains why he did not want to wait any longer to write his article: ,,I have recently received requests to say something about this much discussed topic. At first I didn’t want this, but later I was convinced. I first chose to approach the subject in a general way. If there are comments on it, I can always go in depth.”

Last week, the Council of State spoke against the possibility of expanding emission-free barns. In a previous Nivo article, Schilder already talked about the great influence of NGOs, often organizations that stand up for nature. “This lawsuit is brought by the NGOs. The State Council has failed a few times in the past. Including in the benefit case and other issues. This opinion again tends to be biased against science and against a certain sector. This issue should not at all be there, but at the Supreme Court. It must explain the rules on agriculture and fishing in relation to Natura2000.”

‘The situation is now so distorted that both politics and the judiciary are under pressure from NGOs’

Painter studied the latest legislation in these areas again last week. He cites some data available on the agricultural sector in the Netherlands and the EU as a whole. “The Netherlands had record exports of 105 billion euros in 2021. The Netherlands accounts for a very large part of food production on our continent. It can do this because of all the knowledge and ‘know-how’ it possesses. Our farmers also feed parts of Africa and conveys information to make this continent greener. If our farmers are reorganized, the already high food prices will increase by another hundred percent. I can guarantee you that. This is also shown by all the calculations of LEI (Agricultural Economics Institute) and WUR (Wageningen University Research).

The Volendam lawyer does not deny that Dutch nitrogen emissions are high. But that, he says, is primarily due to the population density in relation to the animals. He sees other solutions to reduce this than the reorganization of companies. “A large part of the emissions is due to the food the animals get. They are now fed feed made from palm oil and fishmeal. While a cow is used to eating grass, not fishmeal. They do this to make the pigs and cows grow faster. As a result, they give more milk and become stronger, bigger. By providing different feed, a large part of the nitrogen emission can be reduced. The government does not want to hear about any alternatives and that is very bad.”

The government has previously stated that such innovations do not contribute enough to reducing these emissions. According to Schilder, these insights are mainly ‘spread by the NGOs’. He is conducting an investigation into these organizations, which he believes will have more influence than all previous Dutch affairs combined. He can already see that these nature clubs have become a ‘earnings model’. Schilder has ‘inherent confidence’ in the independent judiciary. He only notes that the law is sometimes applied in a wrong way. Which, according to him, is now also a topic in the nitrogen dossier.

His conclusion is not good. Namely that the central and local authorities do not comply with the implementation of the European agricultural and fisheries regulations. “They let the Natura2000 directive rule over the rules, while it should be the other way around. The situation has now become so skewed that both politics and the judiciary operate under pressure from the NGOs. Minister Van der Wal even admitted this. She said: ‘If we don’t reach an agreement with the farmers soon, we will be sued by the NGOs’. They are afraid of these organizations and the civil service is also suffering. Because of the lawsuits that are constantly being started.”

‘The government is playing with fire because rising food and energy prices cause poverty, and poverty leads to major economic and social problems’

According to Schilder, the farmers and fishermen can also be blamed. Somewhat excitedly, he talks about where they leave it in his eyes. “They are not doing anything legal. While I have long said they should sue. If they do, they are strong. Now they are doing stupid things like closing roads. The Natura2000 legislation is no more than thirty pages. The European farming and fishing regulations run to tens of thousands of pages. They ‘override’ conservation laws. In my piece I explain how government policy is set and what needs to be taken into account when it is implemented. I also refer to documents detailing how the Dutch government should behave in relation to agriculture and fisheries.”

This is substantiated by the lawyer with recent advice from, among others, the European Parliament’s European Economic and Social Committee. “Such EU documents and rules are written by top officials and have direct effect. It literally says that all farmers and fishermen must receive significant financial support right now. You can easily find these two important documents. And what do they do? They do the exact opposite.” With his statements, Schilder goes against widespread attitudes among some sections of society and the government.

Still, the lawyer does not doubt that he is right on this point. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this. What’s happening here is really super-illegitimate, one hundred percent. The government is playing with fire because rising food and energy prices cause poverty, and poverty leads to big economic and social problems. Hopefully this article will help to get farmers’ organizations and fishermen started in the right way.”

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