Dutch manure mountain divides potential coalition partners

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Divisions have emerged between the four parties currently in talks on forming a new coalition government about what to do with the Dutch manure mountain.

Caroline van der Plas, leader of the pro-farmers BBB, has said she is shocked that the VVD and NSC are “not totally opposed” to the outgoing government’s plan to solve the manure problem by buying out more farmers. She has described the proposals as “unacceptable”.

On Tuesday evening it emerged that the VVD and NSC think the manure issue is so pressing that something needs to be done about it now and that “doing nothing is not an option”.

Van der Plas, who wants more lobbying in Brussels, has now demanded an explanation from the two party leaders – Dilan Yesilgöz and Pieter Omtzigt. “I watched the debate in astonishment,” she told broadcaster NOS.

Last week farm minister Piet Adema sent a package of proposals to parliament in which he called for a new buy-out ruling for farmers to solve the problem. Without action, the EU will act and that could involve fines and sanctions, Adema told MPs.

The Dutch intensive farming sector is struggling to deal with reductions in the amount of manure farmers are allowed to spread on their fields, because of the risk of leaching into the waterways and the high concentration of nitrogen. Farmers are now being forced to pay high fees to have the manure disposed of in other ways.

Brussels has made exceptions for the Netherlands in the past and the EU has now run out of patience, Adema said.

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