The party congress of the VVD has adopted a motion submitted by the Drenthe VVD against calendar agriculture. Former Member of Parliament Johan Moes had submitted the motion on behalf of eighty VVD members.
The term calendar agriculture is used for rules that stipulate that potatoes must be harvested on October 1. That causes problems, argued outgoing deputy Henk Brink during the congress.
“It’s about the nitrates directive, to protect groundwater. There’s no discussion whatsoever about that protection, not even in agriculture. But this policy leads to more pollution, you have to spray the potatoes to death in August, September. The quality is then not yet sufficient, they are not yet suitable for the French fries industry.”
The VVD faction in the House of Representatives is not in favor of abolishing calendar agriculture. Thom van Campen argued on behalf of the faction that there are strict agreements with the European Commission about water quality. “It is not yet good enough in many places,” said Van Campen. “The measure will not be taken off the table in Europe. The European Commission says: if you do not keep to the agreements, we will withdraw the fertilizer exemption from dairy farmers. That costs 30,000 euros per company.”
After the two speeches, the motion was put to the vote, and 58% of the VVD members present voted in favour. The motion was passed by the party. With this, the party congress turns against this part of the agricultural policy.
It remains to be seen whether this will have consequences for actual government policy. Minister Piet Adema of Agriculture previously announced that he does not intend to shift the dates for harvesting potatoes, among other things. In the House of Representatives he said: “The European Commission is watching what is happening in the Netherlands with more than average interest, and I feel no room to deviate from that date.”