Are the farmers victims of the battle for space in Flevoland?

Flevoland is an exemplary province when it comes to agriculture. But due to the battle for space in Flevoland and the ever higher land prices, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be at the forefront. ‘The advantage of agriculture, which we have always had: When you sometimes hear the stories, you think we are surpassed here and there.’

A number of stories seek the answer to the question of whether Flevoland is the solution to national problems such as the housing shortage and the nitrogen crisis, or whether it is gradually becoming a drain. In this third story, the agricultural sector of this province is discussed.

Demand greater than supply

The demand for agricultural land is greater than the supply. At the same time, there is a struggle going on over this country. What does this mean for farmers and for Flevoland itself?

Farmers who want to expand suffer during the battle for space in Flevoland and the consequent rising land prices. They can buy land from farmers who quit, but it is getting harder and harder. This is also seen by Peter Lodders, who was a farmer himself and since 2008 a real estate agent who, in addition to the housing market, is also involved in the agricultural market in Flevoland.

Usually sold privately

“There are quite a few farmers who want to expand – in fact a lot. There is a huge demand and very little supply ‘, Lodders explains. In the past there was more supply and the land was for sale a little longer, but today it is usually sold privately. And if it’s for sale at all, it’s gone in no time. “It’s actually quite an issue at the moment.”

After Flevoland had been reclaimed, there was an opportunity for farmers to buy land. There are entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of and bought a farm, but it was not possible for all farmers to do this. “It’s getting harder and harder for these companies to get financing now. At the moment, it is primarily the farmers who lease land from Statens Ejendomsmægler, «says Arnold Michielsen, chairman of the agricultural interest organization LTO Flevoland and himself a farmer.

Fair and transparent

Previously, the government made an active contribution by also using the land that became available for business expansion. “It stopped a few years ago because it was believed that the government should not make the land available to everyone privately, but honestly and transparently. That way, everyone could use it, “explains Michielsen. The downside to this is that it pushes up the price of the land.

Young farmers who want to take over their parents’ farms also see the negative consequences of the high land prices. Arjan Beuling, a young farmer and board member of Flevolands Landbrugs Ungdomskontakt, notices this. One day, he hopes to take over his parents’ business. “It’s really getting harder and harder, and it’s because of land prices that are so terribly high. And it will only keep rising, making it harder to take over the business. ‘

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On the trip

For the economic value, he could never take over the business of his parents. ‘It’s so much money, it’s never possible. As a result, there are schemes such as the Business Compensation Scheme, which means that it is possible to take over the company as long as it remains agricultural. But it is a scheme that is also in danger, “says Beuling.

To stay at the forefront of the agricultural sector, there are several challenges that the sector must go through. In addition to the already high and rising land prices, the sector also wants to focus on biodiversity and sustainability, but it also has to do with factors such as phrase.

Outdated

Does it make it harder to stay at the forefront of agriculture? ‘Yes, absolutely’, says Corné Hermus, chairman of the Flevoland district in the Association for Tenants and Tenants and also a farmer in Lelystad. ‘The advantage of agriculture, which we have always had: When you sometimes hear the stories, you think we are surpassed here and there.’

Hermus sees an example of how things can be improved in France. ‘There, the government has clearly made the choice that agricultural land is a means of production and not a means of investment.’ When, for example, agricultural land is sold, it is first checked whether there is a neighbor who wants to expand or whether there is a young farmer who wants to start a farm. ‘And only if it does not work, the land will be sold to a third party,’ says Hermus. ‘As a result, agricultural land prices in France are also lagging behind the rest of Europe.’

Future perspective

According to Michielsen, it is important that there is a future perspective with a good income model. ‘All the other challenges will then be solved by themselves. It is seen that entrepreneurs with a good income model can also take a closer look at how they can, for example, contribute more to biodiversity, soil structure and their contribution to society. ‘

According to Michielsen, maintaining a good income model will be a challenge. “Especially when you see that a good earnings model for farmers can lead to the prices of products having to go up. If you look at how the public is currently looking at the price increases caused by inflation, you understand that there is considerable tension there. ‘

worrying

Hermus shares this view and finds it worrying that the agricultural land in Flevoland threatens to go to the detriment of other functions. ‘We’m used to: We go to the supermarket, we pull it off the shelves, and that’s it. But you can already see it change a bit. Recently, the Jumbo did not have the milk on the shelves in time. And the bulbs that were almost completely gone last year – though almost no one noticed. I foresee that food security will be seriously threatened. ‘

‘Protect that agriculture,’ says Michielsen, ‘because you really need it and you do not want to be too dependent on other countries. Today it is clear how important it is. ‘

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