Rabobank won’t finance farms in sensitive areas, MPs question gov’t plans

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

Cooperative bank Rabobank, which has come under fire for its role in financing factory farming in the Netherlands, has said it is no longer putting money into farms which are close to protected Natura 2000 environments.

‘Given the [nitrogen pollution] problems, at the moment it is not possible to finance farmers who are based next to a nature reserve and who want to expand,’ bank chairman Wiebe Draijer is quoted as saying at the presentation of the company’s first half figures on Thursday.

‘There are still plenty of good places where farmers can operate and where they can be helped with investment and sustainability processes… but close to nature reserves is extremely unlikely,’ Draijer said. Investment to reduce intensive farming, so that fewer cows live on more land, would be an option, he said.

Rabobank said earlier that it endorsed the government’s reduction goals, but said the plans lack an integrated approach with regard to water quality, climate and the government’s plans for other sectors. They also lack perspective for livestock farmers, the bank said.


Meanwhile, MPs from three of the four coalition parties have been asking questions about the government’s plans to cut nitrogen emissions by 50% within eight years, in the wake of the farmers’ protests

In particular VVD, CDA and ChristenUnie MPs want to know why the government is aiming for a 39 kiloton reduction in ammonia emissions by the livestock industry, when some experts say 30 kilotonnes will be enough to meet the target.

A controversial map showing where emissions need to be cut most and which sparked the most recent protests is based on the 39 kilotonne figure.

A number of MPs have now submitted written questions to minister Christianne van der Wal, who has been charged with slashing nitrogen compound pollution.

Van der Wal said earlier she had built a margin of error into the calculations to be certain that the targets are reached. In addition, the decision to go for voluntary farm closures and tailor-made solutions will make the process less efficient, the minister said.

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