There is talk of a “severe crisis of confidence” between the agricultural sector and the cabinet, says discussion leader Johan Remkes, and according to him it goes “deeper than the current nitrogen discussion”. On Friday afternoon, the cabinet and the farmers’ organizations held an initial exploratory meeting led by Remkes. The breach of trust has to do with, among other things, a ‘feeling of misjudgment’ and ‘faltering policy’, according to Remkes.

    The first tentative agreements for further consultations were made on Friday. For example, ministers must make a broad socio-economic impact analysis and ministers must better substantiate why they want to halve nitrogen emissions in the agricultural sector by 2030, something that was previously planned for 2035. Also, according to Remkes, farmers do not have to fear that their individual company will be directly affected by the ‘nitrogen map’, on which the reduction targets per region were indicated.

    After Friday’s discussion, follow-up discussions will be held with, in addition to the farmers’ organisations, the provinces, nature organisations, branch organizations and the food sector – where, according to Remkes, revenue models will also be discussed.

    Long run out due to ‘good atmosphere’

    Most farmers’ organisations, such as the protest clubs Farmers Defense Force and Agractie, announced on Wednesday evening that they would not take place at the negotiating table in the provincial government building in Utrecht. They sent the chairman of the largest farmer’s lobby club LTO Nederland, Sjaak van der Tak, as representative. Prime Minister Rutte, Minister Christianne van der Wal (Nature and Nitrogen, VVD) and Agriculture Minister Henk Staghouwer (ChristenUnie) sat there on behalf of the cabinet.

    Also read: The consultation with Remkes is an opportunity and a risk for LTO

    The press moment after the conversation, which was to be broadcast on Friday afternoon at 1.30 pm, was initially postponed by half an hour. According to a spokesperson for Remkes, the consultation ended because “the atmosphere is so good”. But even on that atmosphere, the two parties appear to disagree. LTO dropped through Twitter know that this message is “one-sided” and that it “explicitly” does not recognize itself in that statement. “It is indicative of the actions of the government in recent times; unilaterally and without coordination”, according to the farmers’ organisation. After a last smoke break from discussion chairman Remkes, the press moment finally started at 2.45 pm, after a consultation lasting more than four hours.