LTO North chairman Bruins after a turbulent year: ‘We want to get to work’

Thousands of farmers will have to decide next year what they want to do with their farm: innovate, move or stop. LTO North chairman Dirk Bruins thinks that it is now again too quiet from the authorities. Farmers want to take steps, says Bruins. He looks back and ahead after a turbulent year.

“I immediately think of the words of Johan Remkes,” says Dirk Bruins when he thinks back to 2022. “He said: I have seen despair in the eyes of very reasonable people.” 2022 was the year in which farmers once again made themselves heard in the nitrogen crisis. “A lot has really come down to the sector. I feel it all the time, including the discomfort.”

Reason to look back (and ahead) with the foreman of the organization that stands up for farmers and market gardeners. A conversation about protests that go over the edge, the Randstad versus the countryside and politics in The Hague.

It is early January when a new cabinet takes office after months of negotiations. Henk Staghouwer is at the helm of agriculture, and the nitrogen minister is in the hands of Christianne van der Wal. After a year full of farmers’ protests, they must try to get the Netherlands out of the nitrogen impasse.

“We were very much looking forward to the new cabinet,” says Bruins. Before that time, LTO Noord, together with VNO-NCW, nature organizations and Bouwend Nederland, is working on the plan called Sustainable Balance. “Intended, of course, to get out of that nitrogen impasse. So yes, we were very much looking forward to it. We thought: now it will really happen and there will be clarity and perspective for everyone.”

A lot has happened between then and now, of course, but in short, Bruins quickly concludes that nothing really happened. “And yes, that is actually quite painful,” said the LTO foreman. As an example, he mentions the PAS reporters, who are still unsure about their survival. “Some of them face a penalty of 130,000 euros every three months.”