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Ol Drenthe plans to restore nature: “Only what we will not regret”

Drenthe Province is requesting €445 million to make agriculture more sustainable, reduce nitrogen emissions and better manage water quality and quantity. This is the first implementation of the National Program for Rural Areas (NPLG), through which the government wants to restore nature.

These are general, region-specific plans and procedures that apply to the entire agricultural sector. This is just the beginning, because all of Drenthe's plans require 4.5 billion euros.

These plans will be included in the Drenthe Rural Area Program (DPLG). According to Rep. Jesse Otter, these will just be actions we won't regret and that you know you'll have to take at some point. This is because both the NPLG and DPLG have not yet been completed, there is no agricultural agreement, and there is uncertainty about the path the new government will take.

The package includes measures related to nature, water and soil. According to Otter, these measures are largely linked to existing water and nature projects. “Consider rescheduling a stream to improve biodiversity and retain water longer. This will benefit both agriculture and nature.” Projects from water companies and water boards have been added to DPLG.

Otter points to existing nature restoration plans that the Dutch Nature Network has not yet implemented. For Drenthe, this represents 13,000 hectares of new nature, of which 6,000 hectares remain to be achieved. The province already owns 4,000 hectares of land, but work has not yet begun.

The general package of measures is mainly aimed at making agriculture as a whole more sustainable. According to Otter, you should consider, for example, supporting nitrogen cracking units for dairy farmers and further developing critical performance indicators (KPI). This has been the Drenthe system since 2018, where dairy farmers themselves take measures to become more sustainable and are financially rewarded for this by the province. KPIs are a type of measurement system for this purpose. Otter wants to know if arable agriculture can participate, too. An experiment is already underway for greater biodiversity among arable farmers.

The province wants 333 million euros for this package.

Some plans have already been approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (NVL) and the first funds should be received before the summer: 131 million euros, of which 119 million are allocated to sustainable agriculture and 12 million to nature. Soil and water.

The province also wants to provide more support for government-purchased peak cranes. DPLG Program Director Desmond de Vries: “The government may buy the buildings from such a farmer, but not the land. We want to buy that land. That's why we also want the money for it.” These funds have not yet been included in the approved plans.

Otter: “There are no established NPLs, no farm agreement and no CLOs yet. What will the new government do, or not do?”

Otter: “The goal of LNG is to be a kind of Harlem oil for everything in nitrogen, agriculture and nature. You can maintain all the goals, but it takes money.” The Drenthe plan is estimated at about 4.5 billion euros, and all provinces combined submitted plans worth 56 billion euros, while the outgoing government wanted to spend 25 billion on them.

The outgoing government wants to allocate nearly 3 billion euros before the summer to address the nitrogen crisis. Nearly 1.3 billion of that amount is allocated to plans submitted by the provinces. The outgoing government also wants to spend €1.45 billion on a voluntary purchase scheme for livestock farmers.