THE Dutch Government has announced plans to buy out 2000 to 3000 farms in a bid to comply with controversial targets to reduce nitrogen run-off.
According to The Guardian, the country’s nitrogen minister Christianne van der Wal, said farmers would be offered more than 100 percent of the value of their farms – with plans to force buyouts next year if the voluntary measures fail.
The plans to halve the country’s nitrogen output by 2030 sparked mass protests earlier this year, with farmers blocking supermarket distribution centres with tractors and lighting silage bags on fire. Signs expressing solidarity with Dutch farmers were displayed across Europe.
Protests were followed by the resignation of the Dutch agriculture minister Henk Staghouwer, who took to Twitter to say he was not the man for implementing the nitrogen legislation.
The latest announcement has sparked more protests, with police reportedly using force to remove farmers from the streets.
Court ordered legislation
The plans to reduce fertilisers and livestock-related nitrogen run-off came after several court cases ruled the The Netherlands’ Government was not doing enough to address the “nitrogen crisis.” The Government replied with plans to reduce livestock numbers by 25pc and a series of other measures.
The Netherlands is one of the most intensively farmed parts of Europe, is one of the world’s largest exporters of dairy and a major exporter of beef.
Speaking to Beef Central earlier this year Scotland-based agricultural public relations specialist George Lyon said it was possible for courts to keep forcing the hands of government.
“Any individual citizen can ask for a judicial review of the government’s handling of anything and that is what happened in The Netherlands,” Mr Lyon said.
“There is a possibility of a country like Scotland adopting a legally binging target and a judicial review into their plans to meet the target being ordered. The courts will have to investigate it and when these targets are legally binding it is very hard to get out of any court ruling.”
Legislation tough on livestock
The nitrogen legislation in The Netherlands is one of many measures across Europe putting pressure on livestock producers. Including:
- A Dutch Council banning meat advertising in public places.
- European Parliament voting to ban the import of products attached to deforestation.
- Ireland aiming for a 25pc reduction in livestock emissions, which has sparked debate over whether animals will need to be culled.
According to Mr Lyon, Europe was clearly trying to influence the rest of the world in its legislation. He described an “ideological battle” between the United States and Europe to influence the rest of the world on climate strategies.
“The US is saying they can reduce livestock emissions while producing more food and we’re going to do it through technology and innovation,” he said.
“While Europe is taking the clunky and legislative route, where they are banning certain activities and trying to prevent other countries from doing them.
“Both Europe and the US are seeking other countries to align and make deals with them.”