New twist for the upturned flags: Farmers, entrepreneurs and public organizations join forces

The frustration among and around farmers goes unnoticed. If you haven’t followed any news in recent years, or you’ve never seen a tractor cross The Hague, it will be obvious from the huge amount of upside down flags that mark our highways. The middle finger to the nitrogen policy of the Dutch farming community imposes a general sense of frustration on our country. For one, that frustration is directed at The Hague, for the other at farmers who turn the flag. No matter how divided we may seem, we all draw the same conclusion: it cannot continue like this and it must change. Fortunately, things can be done differently. The multi-year program for sustainable agriculture with nature in the Utrecht region shows that the government, farmers and nature organizations want to come together to jointly find solutions. Different income models, forms of cooperation and nature-inclusive measures are tested from this programme. This promising program shows that regenerative, or nature-inclusive agriculture, brings commercial opportunities for Dutch companies, thus ensuring that the transition to nature-inclusive agriculture is something we can achieve together, while everyone benefits.

Well cultivated

The Sustainable Agriculture with Nature program invites companies and agricultural entrepreneurs on January 18 to discuss commercial opportunities and forms of cooperation for a regenerative agricultural and food system. Organizations such as Soil Heroes, Wij.Land, Groene Hart Streekproducten and MVO Nederland will present how they have developed revenue models that benefit businesses and farmers and are used to make Dutch agriculture more sustainable.

Regenerative agriculture has a number of advantages that can be taken advantage of from all sides. The climate improves, companies and farmers can make money from the transition, and consumers get the ethical and sustainable products they are looking for. Together, all parties ensure CO2 reduction without causing financial disadvantages. A number of pioneering farmers and successful companies are already restoring farming systems and natural foods with revenue models at the base. They do this through regional purchases and by selling authentic ecosystems.

A short chain

Companies that choose to buy their products directly from regenerative farmers have a positive effect by shortening the chain. Shortening the chain ensures that nature-inclusive products have a place in our consumer market, the demand for regenerative food production increases, we create a climate-proof chain, and the participating companies can share a significant story with their stakeholders. Thanks to a shortening of the chain, the farmer can expect a higher and fair margin, so that he/she meets the agricultural policy of the future in a profitable way. For example, 400 farmers already supply products to ZuidAs in Amsterdam via a short chain.

Authentic ecosystems

Another revenue model lies in the requirement for positive climate measures for companies and the marketing of biodiversity. Organizations such as Wij.Land and Soil Heroes have been created to guide farmers in the transition to regenerative agriculture. They monitor and quantify the environmental gains resulting from regenerative agricultural measures such as carbon absorption (CO2), biodiversity and the soil’s water-holding capacity. This results in relevant impact reports that companies want to commit to and with which they can achieve their climate goals. By purchasing ecosystem services, companies can authentically achieve climate goals regionally and within their chain or customer relationships, as the plant-based fast food chain Jack Bean demonstrates.

The networking and inspiration session Goed Geboerd is the moment when companies and farmers meet. Festivals such as Soil Heroes, Wij.Land and Groene Hart Regional Products inspire the farmers and companies present with the possibilities. Subsequently, a suitable match is sought on the spot between two parties present, with a regenerative farmer on one side and a company on the other. Both will then receive resources and guidance to begin a mutually beneficial collaboration.

Are you a company or a farmer who would also like to be part of one of these profitable solutions? Sign up at bit.ly/goedgeboerd. Goed Geboerd is part of the Sustainable Agriculture with Nature program and organized in collaboration with MVO Nederland, Soil Heroes, WijLand and Regional Products ‘t Groene Hart. The Roadmap for Sustainable Agriculture with Nature is made possible in part by a grant within the framework of the Rural Development Program (POP3) and the Province of Utrecht.

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