Thursday 09 February 2023

Ministry figures suggest 29,000 farms could be hit by nitrogen plans


Finance ministry calculations suggest 11,200 livestock farmers would have to close down and a further 17,600 would need to reduce the number of animals they keep in order to meet EU rules on nitrogen pollution.

The ministry on Wednesday published a large number of documents relating to the crisis following requests from MPs, in the wake of claims made in the NRC newspaper.

These documents, according to the NRC, highlight the differences between the agriculture ministry, which is responsible for solving the crisis, and the finance ministry which has to pick up the bill.

In particular, the documents show that the agriculture ministry plans ‘may not fit in the budget’, the paper said.

The finance ministry figures are based on plans to reduce nitrogen emissions by 39,000 tonnes, in line with government strategy. But officials say a more modest reduction of 30,000 tonnes would also meet the EU requirements and soften the blow for farmers, the NRC reported.

According to the Financieele Dagblad, the finance ministry says the reduction could be as little as 23,000 tonnes, at a cost of €10 billion, which is well below the government’s budget of €24 billion.

The ministry, the FD says, also suggests focusing on poultry and pig farmers, because they would be relatively cheaper to buy out than dairy farms.


Farmers are protesting at government aims to reduce nitrogen compound emissions by 50% by 2030, and by 75% in protected nature reserves known as Natura 2000 areas, in line with EU rules.

The most recent round of demonstrations were sparked by a government announcement in June, suggesting some farm closures were inevitable and the publication of a detailed map suggesting which areas needed reductions from 12% to 95%.

Whats all the fuss about nitrogen in the Netherlands?

Nature minister Christianne van der Wal has given provinces a year to come up with detailed plans aiming at halving emissions of ammonia and nitrogen oxide by 2030.

The Netherlands has some 52,000 farms.

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