Agricultural specialists in Europe are very concerned about Dutch farmers’ incomes. These threaten to plummet by as much as 215 million a year now that the House of Representatives wants to transfer 30 percent of the budget for income support to rural development and greening in the new EU agricultural policy approved today in Strasbourg.
“Other countries don’t do that and that puts our farmers at a huge disadvantage,” said Bert-Jan Ruissen (SGP). According to him, farmers already have a lot to choose from because the direct income support (hectare supplement) already includes strict greening requirements and therefore investments. As a result, farmers already have to incur more costs for less money in the first pillar (of income support).
CDA MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik also calls on the ‘earning model’ of Dutch farmers not to be weakened. “Almost half of the Dutch dairy farmers and a large part of the arable farmers would already have a negative income without agricultural subsidies.” She believes that politicians in The Hague should pay attention to specific Dutch circumstances, such as high land prices and plots of land that are difficult to work on due to the numerous ditches and waterways.
The House of Representatives recently decided, on a proposal from D66, to gradually transfer 30 percent of the budget for income support to rural development. What exactly that money is spent on is up to the government involved, says Ruissen. This can be through ecological pasture management, so that the farmer still earns from it, but also through village renewal or the construction of a new village hall. The farmer will not see a cent in return.
Today, the European Parliament voted with a large majority in favor of far-reaching greening and sustainability, in what Schreijer-Pierik says is ‘perhaps the largest agricultural reform since 1992’. At least a quarter of agriculture will be organic, the use of pesticides and antibiotics will be severely limited, and caged animals will disappear. Many Greens voted against, because they fear that many sustainability rules are too unenforceable and that too much European money will continue to go to industrial companies. On the other hand, there was a sound like Lega-MEP Mara Bizzotto: ,,Long live our classic Italian agriculture. We are not going to eat grasshoppers.”
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