Early on, the courtyard of the South Holland Provincial Government House was bustling with journalists. Everyone takes into account that things are going to explode in fifteen minutes. After all, farmers’ demands and cabinet positions are miles apart. That’s why it wouldn’t surprise anyone if LTO Chairman Sjaak van der Tak, Agractie voorman Bart Kemp and FDF leader Mark van den Oever exit prematurely and close the doors.
But there is no such drama. Consultations between the four ministers and the eight major interest groups of conventional (non-organic) agriculture – now renamed the G8 – are ongoing and ongoing. It actually takes two hours, which is four hours. Prime Minister Rutte, along with ministers van der Waal (Nature and Nitrogen), Staguerre (Agriculture) and Harpers (Water Management), keep the peace.
Whether it’s Rutte’s communication skills, Remkes’ knack for massages or Van der Wal’s persuasion is a matter of guesswork, but the sting is over after those four hours of talking. The peasants in armor entered and left the meeting room with a tamper. “Solutions were discussed in depth,” says van der Tak on behalf of all eight organizations. “There is, of course, no final result today. What we have noticed is a more positive attitude of the Cabinet towards our farmers.
The target year is already eight years
What makes farmers particularly happy is that the Cabinet wants to remove the amount of nitrogen deposition from the law as a measure of the long-term state of nature. This is one of the main demands of farmers. In consultation with farmers, the Cabinet will investigate another criterion that can replace the so-called critical precipitation value (kdw). However, it is critical that the government does not set itself a deadline by which this must be arranged. The target year 2030 will already be eight years from now and for now kdw will remain the standard for all licenses. In fact, nothing will change in the coming years, because the development of a kdw alternative that can withstand the judge’s test will not happen overnight. Moreover, the intention has always been to replace kdw with a normal health indicator that also takes into account harmful factors other than nitrogen.
This time, it was not about the target year 2030, as Ruti claims afterwards. Farmers want to keep the deadline to halve national nitrogen emissions by 2035. This was the goal of the previous Cabinet and is also the year it was included in the Nitrogen Act. It was agreed during the formation of the Cabinet to bring the nitrogen reduction target forward for five years, but this change has not yet been provided for by law. After the consultation, van der Tack called this a permanent “point of contention” (but expressly not a “breaking point”).
CDW leader Hoekstra recently hinted in an interview that his party wants to back out of this coalition agreement (and also wants kdw removed from the law). He said 2030 was “not sacred” to him. In doing so, the Secretary of State is unequivocally distancing himself from Cabinet policy, an outlandish figure who is not actually permitted by constitutional law. The government is expected to speak with one voice.
Ambiguous answer Rota
When asked if the Cabinet wanted to make a concession to farmers on this point, the Prime Minister gave the same vague answer as in the emergency debate a week ago. “There is the coalition agreement, we all support that, and this is 2030,” the prime minister said. There is also an interview by Hoekstra; This is also a political fact. “There is a trial remix,” said Ruti feat. This looks as if a remix should be the arbiter between the coalition agreement and Hoekstra’s political statements.
Remkes does not deny this when asked. Because everyone knows: If he wrote in his final report that the Cabinet should not deal with the 2030 Doctrine, he makes an excuse for CDA, VVD and ChristenUnie to break open the coalition agreement. In fact, this would have been the secret goal of the entire Remkes exercise, which was initiated by the CDA with warm support from the VVD. The three right-wing coalition parties are confident that shifting the nitrogen target to 2031 or 2032 D66 is not worth a ministerial crisis.
Remkes will present his findings in the second half of September. He will then say “things that make sense” not only about nitrogen plans, but also about the desired future prospects for farmers. Before that time, Minister Stagoire will produce an improved letter to Parliament, outlining how farmers can earn good income through a different, more sustainable business model. When he leaves the county house, Stagoire cheerfully mentions that the letter is already in his bag, but he doesn’t want to say when that long-awaited letter will go to the House of Representatives.