Outgoing minister Carola Schouten (Agriculture) acknowledges that the cabinet is working on scenarios in which farmers are expropriated in order to solve the nitrogen crisis. “To my regret, these plans have been leaked,” she said in the House of Representatives today.
Yesterday it leaked that the caretaker cabinet has had scenarios calculated in which the livestock in the Netherlands is reduced by more than 30 percent. Especially in the vicinity of nature reserves, the knife would be cut in farms, in order to make housing and road construction possible. After the scenarios were reported in the media, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) made the calculations public.
“To my regret, these plans have been leaked,” says Schouten in response to questions from GroenLinks MP Laura Bromet. “They have not led to any decision-making. These are scenarios that are simply worked out, also on the basis of many reports that have been sent to the House in the past period. The issue of nitrogen is big and has many dimensions.”
Schouten confirms that expropriation of farmers is part of the plans. “There will be locations where businesses cannot operate,” she says. “We have laid out various options for this. This is possible with voluntary arrangements, with relocation. And eventually it could be the case that you will expropriate. That’s not new. Expropriations are already taking place.”
Until now, the cabinet has always emphasized that farmers could voluntarily stop. This voluntariness seemed to be a hard requirement of coalition parties VVD, CDA and ChristenUnie. But in the new scenarios, billions of euros are set aside for expropriation proceedings. Farmers who are expropriated against their will receive considerably more money than farmers who voluntarily give up their business.
“As far as the CDA is concerned, expropriation is not an issue,” says CDA MP Derk Boswijk. “It is unnecessary, very expensive and time-consuming.” According to him, the farming sector is shrinking every year and it is therefore not necessary to expropriate. Other parties, such as D66 and the Party for the Animals, are positive about the scenarios on which a new cabinet has to make a decision. “Unfortunately, it looks like it is inevitable to take this step,” says PvdA MP Joris Thijssen.
Watch our video below with a response from the activist organization Farmers Defense Force:
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