European agri-politicians on a working visit to Dutch agriculture and horticulture

A delegation from the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament has paid a working visit to Dutch agriculture and horticulture in recent days. The delegation was led by the German EPP politician Norbert Lins, the chairman of that agricultural committee ('agricom').

Ten EU politicians, party employees and interpreters were updated on modern business operations and the current state of affairs at Dutch horticultural and agricultural companies. In greenhouse horticulture, the focus was mainly on the future possibilities of plant breeding, in the Flevopolder on the use of artificial fertilizer substitutes, and in the Krimpenerwaard on possibilities for irrigation and rewetting combined with agricultural use.

The working visit came about at the request of the three Dutch members of that agricultural committee, Annie Schreijer-Pierik (CDA), Jan Huitema (VVD) and Bert-Jan Ruissen (SGP).

The delegation had also requested a meeting with Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Piet Adema, but he had to be replaced by an official delegation because of the busy schedule in his agenda (the agricultural agreement). When asked at the closing press conference why the delegation had not requested a meeting with nitrogen minister Van der Wal, chairman Lins said that this is not usual in the EU protocols: the agriculture committee talks to officials and politicians of the agriculture ministries and not to other ministers . 

Incidentally, Lins and 'host' Bert-Jan Ruissen did not think it was a disaster that the minister had no time, because the working visit was not intended for consultation with policymakers.' We mainly came here to listen', says Lins. He has the impression that Dutch farmers are quite willing to cooperate in implementing the European Green Deal, but that they have reservations about parts of the implementation.

For example, the new eco-subsidies for nature-friendly business operations would be too restrictive and, according to Lins, also financially on the meager side. He argued that the EU subsidy should not only cover costs, but also contain a 'reward' element. According to Bert-Jan Ruissen, many farmers find many EU measures too mandatory, too much imposed from above.

Chairman Lins announced that the Agriculture Commission will take a position on the controversial nature restoration law next week in Brussels. In addition, there are EU factions (from EVP and ECR) that reject the bill completely, and a compromise is being made whereby the mandatory nature restoration only applies within the Natura2000 area TP3Tn.

The EU politicians said afterwards that they have seen at a modern Dutch fruit farm that green, natural plant protection products are already being used a lot, but that sometimes 'in extreme necessity' sometimes chemical agents are used.