Now that the farm deal talks have broken down, policymakers can consider the future prospects for farmers. The Chamber of Deputies will debate the next steps on Thursday. But parliament is not involved at all.
And now? “The only thing you incur is a delay,” LandscapesNL’s Hank Bartelink sadly concluded last week when talks just broke down.
In the agricultural dossier, everything is confused. Farmers who want to be bought out voluntarily need to know what the alternative is. Farmers who want to stay should know how they can become more sustainable and what their revenue model looks like. Targets in the areas of climate, water, nitrogen, soil and nature must be met.
Politically, it is important to know what the CDA’s plans are. The coalition party has announced that it will eventually renegotiate the nitrogen policy in the coalition agreement.
‘There are major objections to this deal in terms of content’
The farm agreement plays a central role in all these issues. Or rather, it should have played an important role. It has already been conceived by nitrogen mediator Johan Remkes to bring farmers and politicians back together at the table.
A joint national-level conversation between politicians and the agricultural sector was itself a small victory after confidence hit an all-time low last summer.
Less than a year after the farmers’ riots, a compromise would have been the final victory for the polder. The grapes were therefore extremely sour for Agriculture Minister Piet Adema when Sjaak van der Tak, chairman of farmers’ organization LTO, resigned after seven months. The deal was then close to completion.
However, LTO still had major objections. Norms about the maximum number of cows that can be kept on one hectare of land, uncertainty about the nitrogen target, no firm promises about a future revenue model – all reasons for Van der Tak not to sign the farm deal, he writes in an opinion article published on Wednesday. NRC.
“The fact that we have approved a deal with a budget of almost 13 billion euros should reinforce the perception of how big our substantive objections are to this deal”, says the foreman of LTO.
Selective purchasing based on draft contract does not make sense
So what should the House talk about today? Remkes already wrote in his last nitrogen council that the cabinet must take the lead if a deal cannot be reached. Adema will present an ‘agricultural charter’ in September as a simplified alternative to the deal, he said ahead of the weekend.
He uses the Remkes report, the coalition agreements and the draft farm agreement as ‘building blocks’. This does not mean that all agreements, commitments and concessions made will be assumed individually.
Therefore, it makes little sense to buy selectively from the draft agreement. That came on Tuesday, when word got out that the cabinet was considering an extra tax on meat, dairy or fertilizer to partially fund farmers’ sustainability efforts.
This idea is contained in a footnote to the draft agreement. “This is being further investigated and worked out,” he says.
Additional food taxes are politically sensitive. Especially when prices have skyrocketed for months. “Now I’m starting to understand why I never saw the government’s commitment to the agricultural deal in the Chamber of Deputies,” tweeted Pieter Omtzigt. “Thursday’s debate on this,” he informed his followers.
VVD MP Thom van Campen hopes the parliamentary debate will go beyond just a possible additional tax as suggested in the footnote. “I wonder if all the other proposals in 106 pages can get the same attention,” he replied to Omtzigt.
Farm deal talks ‘one big therapy session’
Is there anything to say about the viability of the plans? Calculations are not complete. The Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) writes that the economic and social objectives of the draft agreement are not concrete enough for adequate testing.
Wageningen University and the Louis Bolk Institute, which were also invited to examine the proposals, also criticized feasibility. But whether this is also fodder for political debate remains to be seen.
Calculations are based on agreements through May 18. The agreement was later amended, in part based on these reactions, Adema writes.
What is the House expected to discuss on Thursday? Politicians opted for a widely supported farm deal to create as much support as possible among farmers.
Roy Meijer, leader of the NAJK young farmers’ club, called last week’s farm deal talks “a great therapy session for us to learn to think about the future together”. Perhaps this is also the highest value achievable by the Chamber.