Farmers pull out of farm reform talks, citing lack of trust

LTO chairman Sjaak van der Tak (centre) leavees the talks. Photo: Phil Nijhuis ANP

The biggest Dutch farmers association LTO has walked out of talks on reforming the farm system, saying that trust in finding a solution was still lacking.

LTO chairman Sjaak van der Tak told reporters outside the agricultural ministry that the decision to leave the negotiations had been a “difficult one”.

“We were bogged down in ‘intentions’ and farmers cannot live on intentions,” Van der Tak said.

Farm minister Piet Adema said he was extremely disappointed that the LTO had pulled out. The agreement is for 95% completed but the LTO did not dare to take the final step, he told reporters.

Talks will continue with other interest groups, such as supermarkets and environmental groups, on Wednesday, he said. Young farmers association NAJK also left the talks after the LTO.


Earlier on Tuesday broadcaster NOS reported that the cabinet was prepared to give farmers more leeway in deciding how they should meet targets on supporting vulnerable nature. Ministers were also prepared to ensure farmers received a minimum price for their products so their income would not be affected.

In return, all farm products in the Netherlands would have to reach sustainability standards by 2035, the broadcaster said.

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

One of the stumbling blocks is farmer demands for more money for nature management. 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 have said the government’s strategy to cut nitrogen emissions needs a major rethink.

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

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