NOS News•Today, 18:01•Adjusted today, 19:22
It is a pity that a large number of farmers’ organizations will not join the consultation with the cabinet tomorrow, but does not make the conversation pointless, says Prime Minister Rutte. “I think there will be a good representation of the agricultural sector at the table tomorrow,” he says.
According to the Prime Minister, the activist farmers of organizations such as Agractie and Farmer Defense Force (FDF) are still present through the branch organization LTO Nederland. “It is important that LTO also speaks on behalf of those other organizations.”
Rutte said this after a working visit to Koudum in Friesland, where he visited a dairy farm. The visit was not announced in advance. The prime minister was mainly informed about the innovative way in which the company operates. He did not enter into a discussion with the owners about the nitrogen policy, which many farmers struggle with. Rutte has recently visited farms twice before.
LTO Nederland decided to join the nitrogen consultation led by Johan Remkes, after a phone call from Rutte with chairman Van der Tak. Last night the other organizations and action groups decided to stick to their refusal. LTO Nederland will, however, convey a message to the cabinet on their behalf. As a result, according to Rutte, there will be a full-fledged conversation tomorrow.
Rutte does not want to anticipate that conversation, so as not to thwart the negotiations. He thinks that there will be a fist on the table because there is a lot of anger, but also hopes to get to the content. He confirmed that there are no taboos as far as the cabinet is concerned, but he did not want to explain exactly what that means.
Sources in The Hague say that the nitrogen goals are in place, but that the conversation could be about how those goals can be achieved and when. It has been agreed in the coalition agreement that 2030 is the deadline. If that limit is stretched, the coalition parties must first agree on this. But that hasn’t happened so far.
Forerunner in sustainability
The dairy farm of the Stokman family where Rutte visited this afternoon calls itself “a forerunner in the field of sustainability”. To reduce ammonia emissions, manure and urine are separated and converted into biogas in a digester.
According to the company’s site, the release of methane from the cow’s stomach is measured every 15 minutes. To a certain extent, the cows can choose themselves when they are milked and they have access to an outdoor pool, a so-called JaKoeZie.
Nevertheless, there are also many concerns on this exemplary farm about the nitrogen plans, which should lead to a strong reduction in the number of farms in many parts of the Netherlands. Rutte said he was unable to remove those concerns. “Those worries are so great, they don’t go away after a conversation.”
Political reporter Albert Bos:
“Rutte’s visit to the farm will mainly be seen by the farmers as a charm offensive on the eve of important conversations. The TV viewer sees Rutte standing next to a farmer and not against it. The relations between the farming sector and the cabinet are still overheated and the prime minister would like to bring some relief. He has not been able to get all farmers’ organizations to the negotiating table. Of the twenty organizations invited, nine are absent. Tomorrow will show how bad that is.”
Tomorrow morning, a cabinet delegation will therefore consult with a number of farmers’ organisations, led by Johan Remkes. The most activist farmers do not trust the conversations and the moderator.
They did, however, agree last night that they will be represented by LTO Nederland, who will convey their message to Rutte and the ministers Van der Wal (Nitrogen), Staghouwer (Agriculture) and Harbers (Water Quality).
The RVD only allowed Rutte’s working visit to Koudum to be recorded by one television camera. In this case it was from SBS6, but the images have been shared with other broadcasters. All television channels could also send their own reporter to ask Rutte questions afterwards. It is not uncommon for news programs to share camera crews and images in a so-called pool arrangement.