Nitrogen problem: how feed suppliers contribute to sustainable solutions

14 October 2019 - 11:00

At the end of September we reported that the Remkes Committee had published a number of recommendations for the nitrogen problem in the Netherlands. Soon after this, farmers decided to make their way to The Hague to make their voices heard. There appears to be huge support for the farmers from society.

Minister Schouten from Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality published the proposed approach for the nitrogen problem on Friday 4th October. We note that the Remkes Committee’s recommendation to introduce area-specific measures has been adopted. However, we have also noted that there are many uncertainties in the proposed approach, which lead to unrest in the sector and, in particular, among farmers.

There is a lack of clarity especially in relation to whether or not to take up production rights (animal and phosphate rights) when applying external balancing, skimming ammonia space during external balancing and not being allowed to use previously licensed ammonia space when applying for new permits. This, among other things, underlines the importance of the discussion - about how to arrive at sustainable solutions for the Netherlands as a whole and for our sector in particular - being conducted based on generally accepted facts.

What are we doing ourselves?

Our mineral specialists are working together with other companies to take steps to reduce nitrogen emissions through feed solutions. We are also working on targeted advice in the field of stable design and we are working on projects for manure use.

We are going to bring these types of solutions to the Minister’s attention. We are convinced a broader approach, focussed on the preservation of our sector, with respect for the farmer and his livestock, can lead to the desired results.

Collaboration in the sector

We are working together with AgriNL and Nevedi, in order to realise the greatest possible impact. AgriNL is an initiative in which large companies from the agricultural sector work together on projects with agricultural and horticultural organisations, which ultimately contribute to the future of agriculture and horticulture in the Netherlands. ForFarmers has taken the lead with this group to determine a common position regarding the nitrogen problem and to propose a powerful, solution-oriented approach to the Minister.

Both technological innovations and feed solutions can help to limit the nitrogen emissions and therefore need to be more expressly included in the approach. This is an area to which we continue to devote all possible efforts.