Dutch agriculture minister resigns after anti-pollution protests

The Dutch agriculture minister has unexpectedly resigned, telling reporters he wasn’t the right person for the job after a tumultuous summer of farmers protesting over pollution regulations.

enk Staghouwer, who has held the post for just nine months, announced his decision on Monday evening. He had just returned from Brussels, where he had negotiated an agreement with the European Commission to end a Dutch exemption for manure spreading.

The Netherlands, along with Denmark, Ireland and Belgium’s Flanders region, have been allowed to exceed caps on how much manure farmers can bring back to their fields due to the country’s comparatively small land area. However, Brussels wants to phase out this exemption because the Dutch do not meet EU water quality standards.

The country’s lucrative agricultural sector has been in crisis since a court ruling in 2019 forced the government to cut emissions of nitrogen oxides and ammonia produced by livestock. Thousands of farmers have staged protests, blocked towns with tractors and burned bales of hay along highways.

Staghouwer, a 60-year-old former baker, was tasked with moving the sector away from intensive farming practices and buying up farmers to reduce overall emissions.

The government allocated an additional 24.3 billion euros ($24.2 billion) to address the problem. Last week, Staghouwer told the cabinet that he could not meet the mid-September deadline to present a plan for the transition.

“I respect his brave decision,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte wrote on Twitter, but others gave him less praise. MP Caroline van der Plas, from The Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) ​​party, said he was “completely unsuitable” for the job.

Bart Kemp of the Agractie farmers’ organization told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that Staghouwer was “a kind man but not a determined person”.

Staghouwer’s role will be temporarily taken over by former Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten.

AP

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/farming-news/dutch-farm-minister-resigns-after-protests-over-pollution-41965333.html Dutch agriculture minister resigns after anti-pollution protests

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