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Schouten proposes to the Dutch Lower House an entrepreneurship agenda to improve agricultural producers income

The agenda aims to help farmers earn good incomes now and in the future, which is crucial in making the transition to circular farming.


Dutch growing field.

A stronger position of farmers and growers in the food chain, help with investments in sustainability and making knowledge and science about future-proof agriculture more widely and more easily accessible. These are the core elements of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Agenda, which Minister Schouten of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) has sent to the Lower House today. The agenda aims to help farmers now and in the future to earn a good income, which is crucial for making the transition to circular agriculture.

The elaboration of the agenda is partly based on the report of the Circular Agriculture Taskforce Earning Power. In the letter to the House of Representatives, Minister Schouten writes that it is important that farmers get more room for entrepreneurship: "no one knows as much about his business than the agricultural entrepreneur himself." The entrepreneur is concerned with his own earnings model, while the government ensures the right preconditions in the market.

The agenda includes how the ministry stimulates (new) entrepreneurship, such as by strengthening the position of the farmer in the chain and through 'alternative' business models (including short (food) chains and multifunctional agriculture). In addition, the announced Conversion Fund of 175 million euros should make it easier for entrepreneurs to make sustainable investments. The Minister will soon inform the House of Representatives about the contours of that fund.

Sharing knowledge through Sabe

Getting knowledge and innovation on the farm is very important if we want to move towards new, more sustainable ways of working. That is why the government is making money available for subsidies for organizations that start a project to transfer knowledge about sustainable agriculture. The projects are for and by farmers to learn with and from each other. This is part of the Subsidy module for agricultural business advice and education (Sabe). The scheme for project subsidies will open at the end of October.

Grow to tomorrow

On the website Platform Circular Agriculture, entrepreneurs share their experiences in the transition to circular agriculture. Since 12 October, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality has also had a live communication line 'Growing to Tomorrow', where entrepreneurs can find concrete support for problems they experience in the operational management, financing or takeover of their company.

Laws and regulations

To combat unequal power relations in the chain, Minister Schouten is working with the State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) on a package of measures that will strengthen the position of farmers in the chain. For example, work is being done specifically for the agricultural sector on an amendment to the competition law and Minister Schouten will shortly be sending the bill on Unfair Commercial Practices to the Lower House. Farmers often have to deal with negotiations with larger parties in the chain. The farmer is often a one-man who has to sell perishable goods and is therefore quickly weaker in the bargaining position and can even be put under pressure to accept discounts, for example. This hinders entrepreneurship.

In the experimental areas in regions there is room to deal more freely with current legislation and regulations in order to be able to discover and try out innovations.

ACM Agro-Nutrient Monitor

In response to the publication of the agro-nutrition monitor report of the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), Minister Schouten states that this provides a first step towards insight into the purchase and sale price in the various links in the food chain. She appreciates the openness that companies have given about prices and costs for the period 2017-2018. Wageningen Economic Research carried out the research for ACM for onions, white cabbage / sauerkraut, pears, tomatoes, cow's milk and pork. The first results provide interesting insights. For example, it appears that higher production costs in organic farming are in many cases covered by higher yields - in many of the cases studied, the profit margin of organic farms is larger than that of regular producers. But ACM's analysis also shows that there are still uncertainties for entrepreneurs to switch to organic / sustainable agriculture for the longer term. This underscores the importance of the agricultural entrepreneurship agenda. Minister Schouten agrees with ACM's analysis that the results of the investigation must be interpreted with caution. For example, the analysis only concerns the Dutch food chain, while these products often cross borders. ACM will repeat the investigation in the coming years. ACM will closely involve stakeholders in the follow-up investigation.

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