The Cabinet wants a downtime bonus for farmers who emit too much nitrogen near nature reserves. From April next year, thousands of farmers will receive an offer. They can innovate, move, or stop. If the farmer quits, he gets 120 percent of the value of his farm.
Ministers discussed the most interested this morning. Farmers do not have to participate in the program, but then they will have to deal with stricter environmental requirements and it will be more difficult to continue.
The cabinet wants to announce the final plans on Friday. This should also include a nitrogen tax for all businesses. The polluting factories would then have to pay large sums for their nitrogen emissions. This system is similar to the tax that companies pay for carbon dioxide emissions.
These measures are in response to the advice of nitrogen broker Johan Remkes and the recent ruling of the State Council refusing to act on construction exemptions.
Stricter environmental requirements around Natura2000 areas are a big stick, with which the Cabinet hopes to attract as many farmers as possible to participate in the voluntary scheme.
In the coming days, the proposals of the ministers most involved in the parliamentary parties of the government parties will be discussed. They can still push for changes.
This government approach should eventually also lead to the codification of PAS reporting. This was also a condition laid down by the RMX and adopted by the Council of Ministers.
The hope is that many more farms will choose to close so that enough nitrogen is released to help PAS reporters. Then they can get a permit.
PAS notifiers are companies that have reported low nitrogen deposition activities to the government for the Nitrogen Approach (PAS) program. They did not need to apply for a permit. But because the judge ruled out the PAS, these farmers are now without a permit and risk receiving high fines.
The Cabinet has been struggling with the nitrogen approach for years. In 2019, the Supreme Court rejected the government’s policy on nitrogen. Since then, Cabinet and counties have repeatedly backed away from the courts when it comes to the nitrogen approach.
In recent years, farmers have regularly protested against the nitrogen approach. Tension between the farmers and the cabinet had grown so high this summer that Johan Remkes was asked to mediate between all parties. This led to his “what is possible” advice.
Agriculture Minister Beit Adema wants to conclude an agricultural agreement with the sector early next year. It should show what the agricultural sector in the Netherlands should look like in the future.
He also wants to present the perspective that, according to the sector, was missing in previous plans. He will discuss this in more detail in his message on Friday. It will also call on chain parties, such as supermarkets and animal feed manufacturers, to contribute to a better revenue model for farms.
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