EU scraps exemption for Dutch farmers from manure limits


Dutch farmers are losing a special dispensation that allows them to spread more manure on their fields than their counterparts in most of the rest of the EU.

The Netherlands was granted an exemption by Brussels because of its relatively small land area, which also applies to Denmark, Ireland and Flanders, but has been under pressure to drop it because it falls short of EU water quality standards.

Agriculture minister Henk Staghouwer confirmed that he had agreed to phase out the ruling over the next three years and compensate farmers for the extra drainage costs.

The government estimates the cost for the 18,000 farmers who make use of the exemption to be around €130 million. ‘It’s a big blow and it will have consequences,’ said Staghouwer.

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