Limburg heads list of farm buy outs with 25 this year

Pigs on a factory farm. Photo:
Pigs on a factory farm. Photo:

Some 25 farmers in Limburg have agreed to an earlier government buyout this year as the deadline to participate in the scheme came to an end on Thursday.

The scheme, administered by provincial governments, was introduced in an effort to cut back on nitrogen-based pollution by livestock farms.

The businesses, nine pig farms, eight dairy farms, six chicken farms and two veal farms, are all so-called ‘peak polluters’ bordering Natura2000 nature reserves, the provincial authorities have said.

The farms were purchased for a total of €47 million, or almost half the provincial budget of €90 million, and the land will become part of the nature reserves or repurposed for something else.

Limburg provincial deputy Geert Gabriëls said he was pleased with the result but questioned whether the province would have the financial means to support farmers who want to make the transition to sustainable farming.

‘This is a big task and it requires a lot of money. The current scheme is now closed so now we are left with ambitious goals and no concrete available scheme to support them,’ he said.

The government has also set aside €476 million to buy out some 500 cattle farmers whose nitrogen emissions are high and whose businesses border vulnerable areas. Just over 30 cattle farmers have participated so far.

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