Farmers face compulsory buyouts to cut nitrogen emissions: NRC

Animal farming is a major source of ammonia . Photo:

The finance and agriculture ministries are planning to buy out hundreds of farmers at a costs of up to €17bn to cut nitrogen emissions.

A report in NRC based on government environment agency documents it had access to, said the operation would be a ‘radical departure’ suggesting the cabinet would ‘not shy away from using force’.

The government is looking at two scenarios, according to the documents. One, costing around €9m, would involve the government buying up livestock production rights. The second plan focuses on buying out farmers, some of whom may be forced to sell their land to the government.

The land would then be used for more sustainable agriculture. The budget for this scenario is estimated ast around €17bn.

The radical solution is a response to the low take-up of voluntary buyout offers. Fewer than 300 pig farmers have signed up for a scheme to give up their business, although twice as many initially applied.

The agricultural sector is the biggest source of nitrogen pollution in the Netherlands and numerous large-scale infrastructure projects which also produce nitrogen have also been put on hold.

The recently approved law on nitrogen reduction will ensure the Netherlands achieves long term environmental goals but, the paper said, but the government says more needed to be done to get the building industry moving again in the short term, housing being in particularly short supply.

Sources told broadcaster NOS that a decision on any scenario will not be made before budget day on September 21. The issue is expected to be on the agenda for the talks to form a new coalition government.

Farmers’ association LTO, which has always been opposed to forced buyouts, was involved in drawing up the scenarios, the NRC said.

Radical farmers’ organisation Farmers Defence Force told the AD in a reaction it would mobilise farmers for more demonstrations if the expropriation plans go ahead.

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