Dutch Farmers and Government Can Reach a Better Solution

Op-Ed by Emily Thompson

Thousands of farmers in the Netherlands are protesting what they say are unfair government efforts to regulate nitrogen emissions. According to one study, farmers are responsible for 46% of the country’s nitrogen emissions, mostly due to cow dung produced by the livestock industry. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has committed to halving the country’s overall nitrogen emissions by 2030. Now, the Dutch government is offering to buy out up to 3,000 “peak polluter” farms and major industrial polluters in an attempt to reduce ammonia and nitrogen-oxide emissions that are illegal under EU law. But farmers are upset because they feel that the government’s measures to reduce nitrogen emissions are unfairly targeting their industry and that they are being asked to bear a disproportionate burden in addressing the nitrogen crisis.

In October 2019, Rutte addressed the Dutch Parliament and said that the country was facing a nitrogen crisis. He stated that reducing nitrogen emissions was a priority for the Dutch government and that they were committed to taking action to address the issue.

Rutte also acknowledged the challenges of reducing nitrogen emissions, particularly in the agricultural sector, which is a major contributor to nitrogen pollution due to livestock farming and fertilization of crops. The excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers has caused a build-up of nitrogen in the soil, which is then released into the air as ammonia and nitrogen oxides. Rutte stated that the government would work closely with farmers to find sustainable solutions and would invest in research and development of new technologies and practices.

Since then, the government has implemented measures to reduce nitrogen emissions, including reducing the speed limit on highways, reducing livestock numbers, and increasing the use of low-emission farming practices. Rutte has continued to emphasize the importance of reducing nitrogen emissions and has stated that the government will continue to take action to address the issue.

Dutch farmers have expressed frustration and anger over the government’s measures to reduce nitrogen emissions. This is because many of these measures directly impact their livelihoods and the way they operate their farms.

But perhaps there are other solutions to this crisis. Agricultural and environmental experts are calling for the need to introduce food-system solutions such as agroforestry, which they say can contribute positively to the country’s nitrogen goals. Agroforestry systems harmoniously integrate reduced livestock with profitable trees and crops such as hazelnut, walnut, cider apple and timber trees.

The sustainable agricultural system involves the integration of trees, crops, and livestock on the same land, allowing for multiple benefits. Agroforestry can help resolve the problem by acting as a natural filter for the excess nitrogen. The trees in such a system absorb nitrogen through their roots and incorporate it into their biomass, preventing it from leaching into the soil or water. The trees also provide shade for crops, reducing their water and nutrient requirements, which in turn reduces the amount of fertilizer needed. Additionally, the roots of the trees can improve soil structure, which can reduce soil erosion and improve water infiltration.

Agroforestry can also benefit farmers by providing multiple sources of income, such as timber, fruits, nuts, and livestock. This diversification can reduce their dependency on traditional monoculture practices and provide a more resilient and sustainable farming system – and help partially resolve the country’s nitrogen problem.

Another solution is agroecology, which involves crop rotation, intercropping, and the use of natural fertilizers. One of the main causes of nitrogen pollution in the Netherlands is the heavy use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture. Agroecology offers an alternative approach that reduces the reliance on chemical fertilizers by utilizing natural sources of nutrients, such as compost and animal manure. This can significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen runoff from farms, which is a major contributor to water pollution.

Agroecology also promotes biodiversity and healthy soil, which can further reduce nitrogen pollution. By encouraging crop rotation and intercropping, agroecology can help to maintain healthy soil and prevent soil erosion. This, in turn, can reduce the amount of nitrogen that is lost through runoff or leaching into groundwater.

While it is understandable that the government wants to regulate and reduce nitrogen emissions, focusing disproportionately on farmers is not the solution. Instead, farmers and the government must work together to find a way forward that addresses the issue of nitrogen pollution, while also ensuring that the agricultural sector can continue to thrive. This may involve adopting more sustainable farming practices such as agroecology, which can help to reduce nitrogen emissions, while also promoting biodiversity and healthy soil. By taking a collaborative approach, farmers and the government can find a way forward that benefits both the agricultural sector and the wider community, and ensures a sustainable future for all.

Image: Pixabay

Become a Patron!
Or support us at SubscribeStar
Donate cryptocurrency HERE

Subscribe to Activist Post for truth, peace, and freedom news. Follow us on SoMee, Telegram, HIVE, Flote, Minds, MeWe, Twitter, Gab, What Really Happened and GETTR.

Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.

Activist Post Daily Newsletter

Subscription is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL
Free Report: How To Survive The Job Automation Apocalypse with subscription

Be the first to comment on "Dutch Farmers and Government Can Reach a Better Solution"

Leave a comment