Farmers should blame the Rabobank and supermarkets, say environmentalists

Animal farming is a major source of ammonia . Photo:

Farmers should be blaming supermarkets, farmers’ organisations and their principal lender the Rabobank for their troubles, not citizens or environmental organisations, umbrella organisation Natuur en Milieufederaties has said.

The organisation’s reaction comes in the wake of Tuesday’s massive demonstration in The Hague where thousands of farmers protested against proposals to halve livestock levels to reduce nitrogen pollution.

Farmers are being paid too little by supermarkets and big lenders such as the Rabobank knew that problems could not be avoided, spokesperson Sijas Akkerman told broadcaster NOS. Instead the bank kept giving out loans for bigger barns while farmers’ organisations employed delaying tactics and frustrated sustainability legislation, Akkerman said.

GroenLinks has said Rabobank must contribute financially to the shrinkage of Dutch agriculture and compensation packages for farmers.

‘Some 85% of farmers bank with the Rabobank, with €25bn worth of loans,’ MP Bart Snel told the broadcaster. ‘But what the bank has done is giving out bad loans for years and for that it will have to take a loss. That is part of their duty of care. We need to help the farmers not the bank,’ said Snel who will bring up the suggestion during Wednesday’s financial debate.

Rabobank commented that it is not prepared to write off any loans but will do its utmost to support farmers.

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