Van der Wal: ‘We focus on stayers, but not everything is possible everywhere’

This week, it became clear what that scheme entails: a compensation in line with the market for production rights and the loss of value of production capacity. For this, the government wants to allocate a total of 750 million euros divided into two schemes.

If you are not at the table, others will decide your future

Christianne van der Wal, Minister for Nature and Nitrogen

‘The old scheme was based on a compensation of 65 per cent of the market value. Why would you use it? ‘, Van der Wal asks. ‘It is now 100 per cent of the market value. We have made the scheme as attractive as possible so that as many farmers as possible can use it. ‘

The stop scheme proposed by Minister Van der Wal is in fact two schemes. One is the national termination scheme for livestock farms. Under this scheme, farmers can be voluntarily bought out. The subsidy to be granted consists of a market compensation of 100 per cent for the production rights to be canceled and a compensation of 100 per cent for the loss of value of the production capacity.

Under the national redundancy scheme, € 270 million will be made available for milk production, € 115 million for chicken and turkey farming and € 115 million for pig farming.

In addition to a generic scheme, customization is required to specifically purchase tipper loaders. This is aimed at companies that generate the largest landfill burden for a specific Natura 2000 site. The second tranche of the measure for the targeted purchase and cessation of livestock farming is intended for this purpose. This scheme allows the provinces to buy targeted loaders and get them laid off. 250 million euros will be made available for this.

Why should a farmer bite now and not wait for the end of the expropriation process?

“Expropriation cases take a long time. It is a dragging process. If you can now get 100 percent of the value, it gives peace of mind. You make a decision and can start looking at what you can do on the spot.

“And to be clear, it’s about the production capacity of the farm. We do not take over the house and the land. Other activities can be developed on this basis and there are also financial opportunities for this.

‘I urge people to study the rules carefully.’

Why do you focus on stoppers?

‘We also focus on stayers, but the fact is that not everything is possible everywhere. Most worries are with the plugs. This is what we get the most questions about, so they get the most attention from many people.

‘But it’s also important to talk about the future of the stayers. The Minister of Agriculture, Henk Staghouwer, will send a letter around 10 June outlining the future prospects. ‘
Farmers feel threatened by the government. They have the feeling that they have to make room for nature, houses and roads. Is that right?

Earlier this month, Minister Van der Wal visited the Troosts family's farm in Rouveen.
Earlier this month, Minister Van der Wal visited the Troosts family’s farm in Rouveen. © ANP

‘A feeling is always right. I hate that feeling is there. If you stop and start such a process with the government, it quickly becomes very technical. I hear from practice that humanity is missed in that process.

‘Is my message warm and human? I do not think. Above all, I want to be honest and clear. I fully understand that not everyone wants to hear my message. ‘

What is your message?

‘My message is: We have received an order from the Council of State. We must reduce nitrogen emissions and restore nature. Only then can we give permits again, also to agriculture. That’s my job.

“The debt issue is often looked at and everyone is looking at the farmers. This is unjustified, because the sector has already reduced emissions by 60 percent. It’s huge.

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“If you are already pointing at a perpetrator, point it at the government. If necessary, point at me. We have let it get to the point where we have not kept our agreements for years. We have given permission and promised to restore “But we have not restored nature. We have not done so for so long that we have now hit the wall hard.”

Why is the action not aimed at the industry?

Action is being taken against these companies. We look at all sectors. Industry alone accounts for 7 percent of nitrogen emissions and agriculture for 46 percent. The biggest task lies with the agricultural sector, and that is why the greatest attention is paid to it. ‘

What does this scheme mean for reducing nitrogen emissions? How many farmers will participate?

‘It will pay off a lot. But we do not know exactly how much the reduction is until afterwards. It depends on which farmers make use of the scheme.

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About the Minister of Nature and Nitrogen

Christianne van der Wal (48) has been Minister of Nature and Nitrogen in the Rutte IV Cabinet since 10 January 2022. She comes with some management experience. Prior to her ministerial post, she was a deputy in Gelderland municipality. The VVD member, born in Oldenzaal, started his political career as a councilor in Harderwijk municipality. She was councilor at the place from 2014 to 2019. In 2016 she joined the VVD’s main board and in 2017 she was elected party chairman.

‘We are based on the state of nature. Next month, we provide insight into the task per area. It differs from area to area. The challenge is greater in Gelderse Vallei and De Peel than many other places. In border areas, for example, emissions from abroad must be addressed. ‘

How do you think the regional approach is going?

‘I see a lot of good area processes. Many of them are already underway, and things are already going well in many places, such as Nieuwkoopse Plassen. This is where the knowledge and expertise of the farmers in the area is on the table.

“At the same time, I have to admit that it generally takes a long time. In the end, it gets really exciting when the choices are on the table. The question is whether the area process is still so pleasant ‘.

The provinces must design the area plans. Next year you will have those plans. Will it work?

‘We must. The elections to the provincial council are still in between. That makes it more exciting. But no one benefits from failing this. We have no time to lose. The pressure is on the boiler. The deadline for the provinces is July 1, 2023.

“In some areas, we can go into the process and take our time. But in a number of areas, the natural condition is really not good, such as De Peel or Groene Hart. We do not have ten years to discuss this, because the task is enormous. It is underestimated.

“If the provinces do not come up with a plan, we will take it over. Then we set up the area. I prefer not to, because it’s better that it comes from below. But at the same time, we can not afford not to push through. “

The area-oriented approach focuses on the critical deposition value (KDW). This is complex. Why are you sticking to this?

“I think it is important that we focus on the natural goals. KDW is an instrument to demonstrate whether nature is recovering. This is necessary to provide legal support for what you are doing. Otherwise you have to go to court again.

‘I want to measure more. I understand that people want it too. We did not, but I think that is important. That is why I asked the National Nitrogen Knowledge Program to set up a measurement program. It’s not that hard to measure oneself. What makes it complicated is how you handle the data. It will take some time before it is set up properly. ‘

What if the goals turn out to be unattainable?

‘The goal is exciting, but not unattainable. It’s rained out. We want the emissions to be below the critical deposition value in 74 percent of the Natura 2000 sites. Not 100 percent. I can also see that people who do not want this are starting to criticize the Aerius model or question KDW. ‘

Provinces mumble, peasants walk away. How do you create support?

‘Fortunately, there are many farmers participating. If you are not at the table, others will decide your future. That would be one reason I wanted to talk to you. Then you can say something about your future. Farmers who choose to go away must be well aware of this. “

© Studio Van Assendelft

5 questions about the new stop scheme for livestock farming

What do LBV and MGA2 mean?

The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality allocates 750 million euros to a stop scheme. Two-thirds of this amount is earmarked for companies wishing to stop using the National Termination Scheme for Livestock Farms (LBV). A third party can be used by provinces to acquire companies in Natura 2000 sites with the Targeted Purchase and Termination Measure (MGA2).

Why are these schemes more attractive?

LBV is financially more interesting. There has been a significant lobbying effort to compensate up to 100 percent of the production rights and the fixed loss of value of the production capacity. Previously, it was 65 percent. Companies that have participated and dropped out of a previous program can now participate. The scheme is also more attractive to companies without production rights, such as goat farms.

Under the previous MGA scheme, a professional ban on entrepreneurs was imposed. Within MGA2, companies can be relocated. So now entrepreneurs can look elsewhere. Moreover, under both schemes there is no obligation to buy land from the government. However, he has the first right to buy, but the entrepreneur retains the right to keep the land himself or sell it to someone else.

Which companies can participate in the termination scheme?

The scheme is more accessible in design. Companies located further from a Natura 2000 site can also participate. LNV has calculated that 10,000 companies qualify for this. However, the budget of 500 million euros is limited.

Who is this attractive to?

The purchase calculator, in which a farmer can calculate his own situation, is not yet available. Although the event is ‘wildly attractive’, according to Nitrogen Minister Christianne van de Wal, everything is not quite right yet. The tax implications must also be considered, and there is still much that is unclear about the new destination and whether an entrepreneur may continue to live there.

What does this mean for the sector?

Much is still unclear in that regard. For example, for LTO, the perspective of those who stay is important. This does not only mean that the scheme must lead to a good redistribution. It is also not yet clear what will happen to the released nitrogen space.

LTO is therefore in favor of registering the available nitrogen site and using it in agriculture. PAS reporters and people who do not have a permit may then be the first to claim this.

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