Farm reform talks end without a deal, will restart in June

Farm minister Piet Adema talks to the press during the talks. Photo: Jereom Jumelet ANP

Talks on reaching a deal to reform Dutch farming and reduce agriculture-related pollution will continue in June after efforts this week failed to reach an agreement.

Farm minister Piet Adema has told MPs in a briefing that a decision will then be taken on whether an agreement is likely to be reached and if the talks should continue.

Government officials, farming lobby groups, and other organisations have been talking for the last 18 months to make farming more environment-friendly while ensuring farmers can continue to earn a decent wage

This week’s marathon talks included prime minister Mark Rutte, who had flown back from the Council of Europe meeting in Iceland in an effort to break the deadlock. Despite the failure, Adema said that he “continued to be confident” in the process.

One of the stumbling blocks is farmer demands for more money for nature management, NOS reported. Farmers are also mistrustful of finance minister Sigrid Kaag, whose party (D66) wants to stick to current agreements on reducing nitrogen-based pollution by 2030.

In addition, there remain wide divisions on crucial issues such as how to deal with manure and pesticides.

Farmers in particular have been buoyed by the big wins for pro-farmers party BBB in the recent provincial elections. And Sjaak van der Tak, chairman of the main farming lobby group LTO, said last month the government’s strategy to cut emissions needs a major rethink.

‘If that does not happen, there will be no agriculture agreement,’ he told the Telegraaf earlier.

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