Farmer Ruud Snoek feels support: ‘The plans are made from afar’

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BERGAMBACHT – Ruud Snoek (30) runs a farm and cheese shop with his parents and girlfriend at Lekdijk West in Bergambacht. According to the issued nitrogen card, he must make 70% nitrogen reduction.

“If this is to be achieved through reduction of the herd, it means that of our 140 dairy cows, only 42 remain.” The company can not survive that way, so Ruud, his girlfriend Amy and his parents have to look for another job and a new life.

Ruud’s dream started already in his childhood. He will also do what his parents do when he grows up: become a farmer. Ruud is now an adult, he is in partnership with his girlfriend and parents, and they take care of 140 dairy cows and 80 young animals every day. They use the milk from the cows to make cheese, which they sell at home and to cheese merchants. “Since the corona period and since we put a sign on the dike, it’s really stormed the store and the cheeses are flying out the door.”

The company has not always been that big, Ruud explains, as we sit at the garden table in the sun. “We started here at Lekdijk West only five years ago. Before that we lived in Benedenberg, where my parents, grandparents and the previous generation had a farm.”

“The bank was then encouraged to grow as a business because the small farmers had no right to exist. In addition, the dairy threatened to reject the stable facility. We then got the opportunity to start a company here at Lekdijk and grabbed it with both hands. All barns and stables were built to accommodate growth because we had to scale up. ”

Ruud saw pictures in the news of what the farmers are doing of protests, but it had not quite landed for himself yet. The realization was not there yet. Until his girlfriend in the evening told him that he should look good on the map, it showed that their company should reduce nitrogen by 70%. And that while most of the surrounding companies have to achieve a nitrogen reduction of 47% nitrogen.

“Then the emotions hit,” Ruud says. That same evening, he also went to demonstrate in the distribution center. The reason for the 70% is not entirely clear, but according to Ruud it is due to the nature around the waterworks. “I honestly can’t think of any other reason.”

Ruud also does not believe that he has a ready-made solution to the problem. He does not want to shrink now and also invest in innovative solutions. “The bank sees me coming up with the request. “Hello, my name is Ruud Snoek and I would like to borrow extra money, but I have less income.”

If there was a pot of money from the government for further innovations, Ruud would definitely be open to it. “At the moment, it looks like they are only allocating money to buyouts and not to other investments.”

“It is very nice to see that there is great support from the population for our farmers. The flags you see hanging are almost all sponsored and cost us nothing at all. In addition, they also hear from many in the store that they support the farmers, ”says Ruud.

So: “I also have the idea that Krimpenerwaard municipality is behind us. The problem is that such problems are discussed too far from the farmers; in The Hague or Brussels. Just let them arrange this at a local level and it will be fine. Everyone’s support is also needed, because now it is the farmers who are being tackled, but who are the next ones? Will it be aviation or factories, or will it say? “

After all, Ruud still dares to look positively to the future. “If you do not do that, you will go crazy, and I want to prevent my boyfriend and children from being left without a husband and father. I also think it would be wonderful if what I have built up here can one day be passed on by my children. ”

Ruud hopes the nitrogen ticket will be taken off the table. Farmers will continue to protest and take action until another plan from The Hague or Brussels is presented.

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