Agriculture ‘transformed’ by nitrogen measures, farmers plan protests


Stricter measures to control nitrogen-based pollution will have a ‘huge impact on large parts of the Dutch agricultural sector’, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has said in its latest report.

In particular, Gelderland, Brabant and Overijssel, where livestock farming is concentrated, would be ‘transformed’ the agency said. Even if innovative farming methods are adopted the nitrogen produced in the three provinces would still exceed the norm.

A new law, passed in March this year, stipulates that ‘40% of nitrogen affected nature should be clean by 2025 and 74% by 2035′.

The government advisory agency said the government must take regional circumstances into account rather than only look at tightening the rules surrounding nitrogen pollution. In particular, it should concentrate on the areas which are suffering nitrogen-related damage most, such as the peat wetlands in the east and south of the country.

Sjaak van der Tak, chairman of farming lobby group LTO said farmers in the provinces want to be involved in the solution to the problem but, he told broadcaster NOS, ‘it must leave them with some perspective.’

Radical farmers organisations Agractie and Farmers Defence Force have announced demonstrations on Wednesday in protest against the government’s nitrogen pollution policy. The sector is also critical of the plans to concentrate on buying out farmers whose farms border vulnerable natural areas.

It emerged last week that only half of pig farmers who had initially opted for the buy out scheme had left the industry while poor control of widespread manure fraud also skewed nitrogen production figures.

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