Dolf Heikoop: “Give it time, then there is no reason to buy out”

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STOLWIJK – Dolf Heikoop’s farm is located at Benedenheulseweg 54a. This year, he and his wife took over the organic dairy farm from his in-laws. Currently, Dolf has 65 dairy cows and 20 sheep. If the nitrogen measures continue as it is now known, it would mean he would lose about thirty cows and ten sheep. Or, as he himself says: “that my company may remain as it is, but the neighbor’s disappear.”

Dolf is only 25 years old, but since this year he and his wife officially own the farm and associated buildings, land and cows. Together they have an organic farm, which means, among other things, that they do not use fertilizers and chemical pesticides.

They have an official certificate proving that they grow organically. In addition, Dolf tries to offer the cows maximum grazing, which means that his cows are often further out in a day than the ‘average’ farmer.

Raised as a farmer
Dolf grew up on his parents’ farm in Nieuwland. They are also organic farmers and until a few years ago he could only imagine taking over the business from his parents. Until Dolf got to know his wife, and it turned out that she had the same plans, but with the company of her parents. Together they chose to manage the farm in Stolwijk.

nature management
Like many other farmers (approx. 85 of the 120 in Krimpenerwaard), Dolf also participates in Nature Management through the Agricultural Collective. Among other things, he takes into account when and where he mows, thus making room for the meadow birds’ nests. This year he also used for the first time a piece of land for the so-called Plas-Dras.

A piece of land is flooded with this and the hint immediately bears fruit, for it abounds with meadow birds on and around that piece of land. His land is also full of meadow bird nests, which was not the case before. “It is not possible to make money in the form of grass from the ground with this piece of land, but for that I get compensation from the province, which helps me cover the costs. In addition, it gives me a good feeling that I can do this for nature and the meadow birds, “says Heikoop.

Heikoop often participates in campaigns organized by farmers. He helped, for example, with the hanging of the flags in and around Berkenwoude. During the hanging, several came to donate money to the flags or bring a snack. “An older man also came by and told about what the flag means to him. In the beginning, he had a hard time with how things are handled now, ”Heikoop continues.

“Once he had studied the situation of the peasants, he understood the action and was able to support it.”
Public unfriendly acts such as blocking highways, etc. Dolf does not participate in it. “Those actions do not feel right for me to participate in, I understand them, but it is not for me.”

“I do not worry about my income, I can apply for another job. But we are also talking about a whole life here. Cow families who have lived with us for years, a whole lifestyle on the farm that gives me sleepless nights. ”

Heikoop: “We will no longer be able to get nature back to the way it was 30 years ago. Then we had no goosebumps and the ditches were not yet full of crayfish. Geese, which eat themselves full of grass, enter a nature reserve and shit everything under it, which also provides a lot of nitrogen emissions. As a result, good grass no longer grows. These geese do not belong to anyone alone, so no one can guarantee that they emit no or less nitrogen. “

According to Heikoop, no solution will be found to the nitrogen problem today or tomorrow. “If all farmers start growing organically, it will solve part of the nitrogen problem, but then we would have an organic milk lake or butter mountain, and we are not yet at 47%.”

Over the last thirty years, efforts have been made to intensify agriculture, and now it is not possible to turn it around in a year or a few years, it will take time. For example, if a farmer stops his business, his phosphate rights (including how much cattle he may have) will not all be sold, but 20% will be deducted from the first. “In this way, we are moving slowly, but without the great pain, towards smaller emissions. There is a lot of aging in the agricultural sector, which means that a lot of farmers are stopping their business. As a result, fewer cows are kept. ”

Heikoop wants the government to encourage farmers who keep fewer cows per hectare. hectares (and therefore has less yield), with a fee. “In the end, with natural attrition, you will get close to the nitrogen reduction they now want to achieve. Give it time if we want to stimulate things (reduce nitrogen emissions ed.) And take the time to do so, then not one farmer has to be bought out. Here and there a little help to move a business, but then there is no reason to buy out or halve livestock. ”

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