Agro-industry and cooperatives want to give up a third farmland – FDF farmers react furiously and show schism in Dutch farmers’ collectives

The ad is written in general language and contains no numbers except those about turnover and numbers of employees and farmers. The companies account for €46 billion in sales, employment to 116,000 employees, operations in 45 countries and, in the Netherlands, 50,000 farmers. With the last number they claim to represent all farmers in the Netherlands.

According to De Gelderlander, the organizations want to give up 600,000 hectares (of the current 1,820,000) of farmland.

As far as AgriNL is concerned, houses can be built and roads built on a total of 20,000 hectares. At 61 homes per hectare, this provides space for the construction of 1 million homes.

A third in exchange for participation and money
In exchange for customization to cut that land from the current farmland, the organizations want a compensation of €1.5-2 billion annually.

The plan has been signed by the Agrifirm purchasing cooperative, potato factory Avebe, animal feed companies De Heus and ForFarmers, milk robotization company Lely, chicken slaughterer Plukon, Rabobank, beet and potato processing factory Cosun, dairy FrieslandCampina, calf integration VanDrie and pig and cattle slaughterer Vion.

They show realism with regard to the political choice that the Netherlands has made.

Farmers in our small, full and densely populated country that wants to be able to accommodate more people and preserve it for our land and also want more nature, still have 54% of the land mass in use. The wishes of citizens and government demand a decrease in agricultural use.

The 11 large farmers and farmer-listed companies are making an offer to politicians to give up a third of their supporters’ land in exchange for money and a say. They call on the formateurs and future cabinet parties to use their offer at the formation table.

Formation table or room?
With the proposal, they miss the latest political trend. The formateurs Koolmees and Remkes are emphatically committed to more duality in political culture. In essence, this means that the decision on the far-reaching proposal must be made openly in the House and not at the formation table. The approach of the formateurs is in line with the thoughts of the Council of Europe, which turned the Netherlands upside down yesterday for the ‘wrong’ backroom management culture that has arisen.

Anger FDF
In a vlog, foreman Mark van den Oever of the Farmers Defense Force reacted furiously to the plans. If they are not withdrawn, his organization will ‘re-engage’. He also demanded the purchase of industrial estates for conversion into nature reserves. It has become clear to the future cabinet and the House that the large agricultural organizations have become detached from part of the farming community in the Netherlands. It is unknown how great the sympathy among Dutch farmers is for the FDF at the moment.

At the end of 2019, Rudy Rabbinge (agronomist, emeritus professor WUR), Cees Veerman (former minister and arable farmer) and Louise Fresco (chairman of the WUR) made proposals to arrive at a land division. Rabbinge wanted to keep 500,000 intensive hectares and make the rest a buffer area that could be considered as nature inclusion farmers or farmer-inclusive nature. Veerman and Fresco argued at the time for a State Commission to take an expert rather than a political decision on the recovery of farmland for civilian and nature use.

UPDATE: 10:36 PM

In a tweet, LTO Nederland chairman Sjaak van der Tak just announced that the media coverage of the plan is incorrect. Only the ad would be correct.