Agriculture debate: plenty of choice

The political left and right collide during the agriculture debate organised by De Gelderlander newspaper, Regio FoodValley and WUR.
Politicians discuss farming, nature and food during the debate organised by De Gelderlander, WUR and Regio FoodValley.

The political landscape in the domain of agriculture, nature and the environment has become quite uncluttered in recent years.

CDA and VVD support the business sector and are not in a hurry to make the Dutch farming sector more sustainable. To the left of the political spectrum, the positions of GroenLinks, PvdA, SP and Partij voor de Dieren are interchangeable. They all feel that agriculture in general, and livestock farming in particular, should be reduced in favour of biodiversity, public health and climate change.

Circular perspective

The fact that almost no-one defended minister Carola Schouten’s circular perspective during the debate (links to Dutch content) on Wednesday, 24 February, was remarkable. The only party to mention it was her own party, CU. This perspective, which seeks to link farmers, nature, and economy, will likely perish after the elections.

D66 continues along the line voiced by Member of Parliament Tjeerd de Groot that the livestock population should be slashed in half. VVD and CDA want a ‘strong sector’. They decline to divulge percentages, while the leftist parties petition for a more significant reduction. Partij voor de Dieren calls for a 75% reduction in the cattle population.

Climate goals

Not a single politician could explain how the Netherlands intends to meet the climate and nitrogen targets, nor how it will meet the Water Framework Directive while simultaneously guaranteeing farmers a decent income and sufficient room for development. Conservation-minded right and activist left – the revolving door between PvdA, Greenpeace, Groen Links, and Milieudefensie is wide open – take their positions. First, the elections, then they will discuss ‘more governance’. Because that is what all parties desire.

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