Minister to end grants for farmers to ‘improve nature’

Farm minister Sharon Dijksma is planning to stop giving subsidies to thousands of farmers who let parts of their land revert to ‘nature’, she says in an interview with Friday’s Trouw.

Dijksma describes the measure, which currently costs €50m a year, as ‘unacceptably expensive’. Over the past 20 years, the government has spent €1bn on such subsidies but the quality of the countryside has gone down, the minister is quoted as saying.

Individual farmers will no longer be able to apply for the cash but will be able to form collectives with environmental organisations.

Plans drawn up by these new groups will then have to be closely scrutinised by the provincial authorities to qualify for funding. The new rules will come into effect in 2016.