As far as Sjaak van der Tak is concerned, the cabinet provides very little space to discuss the nitrogen approach further. “The ball is in the Cabinet to restore confidence,” says the chair of the LTO Board of Directors, who, in part, on behalf of seven other farmers’ organizations, put farmers’ resentment on the table with Cabinet and Remix during an initial meeting.
Sjaak van der Tak has been positive about the movement he’s seeing in the cabinet, and there are 3 topics to discuss: accelerating legalization of PAS detectors, innovation as part of the solution, and that cabinet should do more. He wants to consider emissions rather than precipitation. “It’s currently too little for farmers and horticulturalists,” says the LTO foreman. After his brief statement, van der Tak left the regional government in Utrecht, where the conversation took place in the council room, to continue meeting with other representatives to share his findings.
Sorry for the disturbance
During the first meeting between the sector and the government, the Council of Ministers apologized for the fuss that arose about the nitrogen card. “We take this criticism very seriously and want to improve it,” Rutte says. Minister Responsible Christian van der Waal says it should have been better explained from the start that farmers cannot read from the colors of the map how much nitrogen reduction they have to achieve themselves. She is disappointed by the turmoil that arose as a result: “I really think it is very bad. All farmers in the Netherlands live in uncertainty, but we cannot remove it quickly either.”
Van der Waal finds it positive that at least there was talk between farmers and the government. So the Cabinet is ready to contribute ideas, for example on how to focus more on emissions than on company deposition. This does not mean that KDW is exempt from the law, Minister Van der Waal explained when asked. “KDW is now the tool we need for licensing. You need environmental proof that comes from deposition. But then farmers say: ‘You can’t hold me responsible for where the nitrogen is deposited, can you?’ And I understand that very well. That’s why we’re going to look at how to control it.” in emissions more. Van der Wal calls it a “common household assignment” for both the cabinet and farmers’ representatives to think about it further. And as far as both the Minister and Medium remix are concerned, there will definitely be a follow-up discussion. They will also continue to talk about innovation as a solution to reduce nitrogen and accelerate the legalization of PAS detectors.
The farmers’ organizations would like to negotiate in advance the nitrogen targets, which they see as unattainable, but the Cabinet provides no leeway. “We will better explain why the targets are important,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.
Everyone has been able to lift whatever they want, and the critical nuts have definitely been broken
Discussion leader Johan Remix described the conversation as constructive and found it particularly positive that all attendees were able to speak “without flour in their mouths”. The interview lasted more than an hour longer than planned. “Everyone was able to discuss what they wanted, and the critical notes were definitely broken.” Remix hopes his stint in charge of Cabinet’s attempt to curb the unrest over nitrogen will soon be over. “It is necessary to break the current stalemate and continue to rebuild trust between farmers and the government.” He commended the position of the Ministers of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality to engage in a more structured dialogue with farmers’ organizations. “And then it would be great for the farmers to take something positive with them,” says Remix.
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