Some 1,000 farmers have come forward so far for preliminary talks on giving up or moving their businesses, under the government’s new buy-out scheme, the NRC reported on Thursday.
In November, the cabinet said it hoped between 2,000 and 3,000 farmers would sign up for the deal, as part of plans to slash nitrogen-based emissions by the agricultural sector.
The farmers want to talk about closures, moving to a new location, reducing the size of their livestock herds and technological advances to cut pollution, the Interprovinciaal Overleg (IPO), told the paper. The IPO is the umbrella group for the 12 Dutch provinces.
Ministers said at the time that if not enough farmers come forward they will resort to compulsory buy-outs.
Details of the voluntary buy-out scheme, which could see farmers paid up to 120% of the value of their farms, have not yet been finalised.
A spokesman told the NRC that while the figures are lower than hoped, this is because there is as yet no concrete plan for the buy-out scheme in practice.
The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) said in October that previous buyout schemes in the last 25 years had only cut the total head of cattle by a few percentage points.
By removing some 2,000 to 3,000 sources of nitrogen compound pollution, nature will be able to recover, farms without proper permits can be legalised and construction can resume, ministers say.
In the long term, ministers are looking into levying a tax on nitrogen emissions, in line with the CO2 levy. That, they say, will make it more attractive to work in a sustainable way.
The cabinet needs to reduce emissions to comply with European regulations requiring it to protect conservation zones known as Natura 2000 areas.
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