Yes, Breitbart, The Netherlands Anti-Agriculture Scheme Is a Disturbing Development

A recent story posted at Breitbart describes the latest anti-agriculture scheme concocted by the European Commission to reduce nitrogen pollution and land impacts of farming, by buying out thousands of farmers and forcing them to stop raising livestock. This is a dangerous proposal for the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe, especially as food prices are already elevated. The proposal is likely to do far more harm than good.

The article titled, “EU Backs Dutch Scheme to Forcibly Shut Down Thousands of Farms, Ban Farmers From Returning to Agriculture Forever,” hits the broad points of the Dutch government’s latest anti-agriculture policy push.

Breitbart reports:

On Tuesday, the governing arm of the European Union officially threw its support behind plans by the Dutch government to buy out thousands of farmers from their lands in order to meet the EU’s Natura 2000 scheme to protect certain environments. The plan, which would offer farmers 120 per cent of the value of their farm, could see some 3,000 so-called “peak” emitters of nitrogen shut down.

It was unclear before this week whether the EU would permit such a scheme, as it could have potentially fallen afoul of regulations surrounding state aid or subsidies. However, Brussels said that the plans were “necessary and appropriate” as they met the broader goals of the European Green Deal.

Despite calling it “necessary and appropriate,” and dismissing economic concerns, the reality is that the Netherlands provide the majority of the meat to the European market. The green-obsessed European Commission and The Netherlands’ government have been targeting their agricultural sector for years. As Climate Realism reported in “True, Daily Signal, Climate Change Policy Harms Farmers and Food Prices,” the Dutch government already got farmers to reduce nitrogen runoff by 70 percent through a voluntary program. Then, they demanded another 50 percent reduction that will be “voluntary or else.” That is, take the buyout, or the government will seize the farm anyway.

One of the more puzzling conditions of the scheme, according to Breitbart, is that “Dutch farmers would be prohibited from moving to other countries and starting up farms abroad, meaning that their knowledge and expertise would be squandered.”

Likewise in Britain, the government is also trying to buy off farmers in order to make them stop farming via grants given for setting aside land for wilderness.

Alarmists claim that agriculture is one of the worst offenders when it comes to climate change, especially types of livestock raising, like cattle ranching. In reality, these industries have far less impact than claimed. One study, referenced by Climate Realism here and here, found that in the United States, livestock raising was responsible for just 4 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Plant crops were responsible for 10 percent. In Europe, where far fewer cattle are raised to begin with, it’s almost certainly lower.

Another significant point that the governments of The Netherlands and Europe at large seem not to grasp is, if they are so interested in going all-organic, meaning they will not use fossil-fuel derived fertilizers, they will need animal manure fertilizers. If they get rid of all the livestock which produce that, they will be left with no way to grow very many crops at all.

As Climate Realism has covered here, here, and here, organic farming and anti-agriculture climate policies don’t help the environment and also have a terrible impact on food prices which can lead to civil unrest and starvation.

If organic farming, using animal manure fertilizers, was to replace high-input agriculture worldwide, it would lead to an increase in land use needed to produce the same yields, increasing deforestation by 8-15 percent, according to one study by the Alliance for Science. Another study conducted by Swedish researchers found that, contrary to climate alarmists’ claims, organically farmed crops actually have a larger emissions impact than conventionally farmed produce.

These anti-food policies already led to a massive upset in recent elections, where the pro-farmer party BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) won 17 of 75 seats. While popular, it appears the government of the Netherlands chose not to listen.

Farms are not a threat to the environment, or the climate. Getting rid of farms, on the other hand, is a clear and immediate threat to food security. Climate alarmists are wrong about the emissions impact of modern agriculture, and their proposed organic replacement policies have a greater impact on the environment than they understand. The only clear end of these proposals is a significant reduction of food produced. Bravo to Breitbart for keeping their eye on these developments in Europe.

Linnea Lueken
Linnea Lueken
Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy. While she was an intern with The Heartland Institute in 2018, she co-authored a Heartland Institute Policy Brief "Debunking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracturing."

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