Four farmers in Drenthe have now signed a contract with the province. A contract that buys them out.
The province bought these farmers out with a buy-out scheme. One hundred farmers had registered with the province for this scheme. Ultimately, the province held talks with fifty. A purchase agreement has been concluded with two dairy farmers and two pig farmers.
Ten questions and answers about how buying out farmers works with this scheme.
1. Have these farmers been pressured?
No. The province always says: volunteerism comes first. The province does not go door-to-door with farmers asking whether they want to be bought out. It is the farmers who report to the province that they are interested in the buy-out scheme. About a hundred farmers have now reported to the province. Interviews were conducted with fifty of them. So far, this has resulted in four farmers being bought out.
2. Why can farmers be bought out?
It has everything to do with that one word: nitrogen. And especially the excess of it. By buying out farms, nitrogen emissions are reduced. And that is good for nature.
3. What is the benefit of buying out farmers?
It is expected that with the buyout of farmers, the nitrogen precipitation per hectare will decrease by about twelve moles – the unit in which nitrogen is measured – per year.
4. What do the farmers get for it?
Money. But how much, that depends on each farm. There is a whole calculation before that. A lot of things are included in that calculation. Think of the number of animals, how much nitrogen is emitted, whether there are tractors that can be bought, the value of the company buildings and whether they have to be demolished and the rights to keep animals. An independent appraiser determines the value of the business.
5. How much money is involved in this?
The cabinet has allocated 480 million euros nationally for this. This must be divided among the twelve provinces.
6. Which farmers are eligible for this?
Not every farmer is eligible. Only livestock farms that cause high nitrogen precipitation on nearby Natura 2000 sites can use it. During the talks with the farmers, all the necessary farmers drop out.
7. Can the farmer still farm afterwards?
It may sound like a surprise, but yes. The farmer may then continue to practice his profession. And here it comes: but. There’s a big but. In that case, the livestock farmer may not start or take over another livestock farm at a different location. If he or she already has a livestock farm at another location, he or she can continue to work there. What is allowed then: starting an arable farm in a different location. And he is also allowed to work for another farmer.
There is another big but: succession by children.
8. What’s up with that?
If children are co-owners of livestock farming and want to continue it, that is not possible. They are therefore not allowed to start livestock farming elsewhere. By the way, this does not only apply to children, but to everyone who is co-owner of the company. The same rules apply to them as to the owner. For example, they are allowed to work for another farmer.
9. What will happen to the farm and land?
It is ultimately up to the province what will happen to the land. It is possible that that land will continue to be used for agriculture. For example, it can be used by another livestock farm. He may not use the land to expand, but can use it so that the same number of animals can live on a larger piece of land.
In any case, the farmer must ensure that the animals are removed. And ultimately the zoning plan must be adjusted, which is then up to the municipalities to do.
10. Does it mean that the farm and stables will remain?
Well, that’s not immediately the issue either. The starting point for the purchases is that the buildings on the site will be demolished, unless there are new sustainable uses for this.