For Dutch farming crisis, agroforestry offers solutions

tractor op akker tussen bomen

Q&A with Lennart Fuchs & Marc Buiter

  • The Dutch government aims to halve nitrogen emissions by 2030 by downsizing and closing farms, sparking a wave of farmer protests and a surprising win for a new agrarian political party.
  • Agricultural and environmental experts are calling for the need to introduce food system solutions that both address farmer livelihoods while tackling the climate and environmental crises.
  • Agroforestry, agroecology and silvopasture — climate change and conservation solutions that can be profitable — are among the solutions they say can contribute positively to the country’s nitrogen goals.
  • Mongabay spoke with two Dutch agricultural experts — Lennart Fuchs from Wageningen University & Research, and Marc Buiter from the Dutch Food Forest Foundation — on how agroforestry could be part of a solution that works for both farmers and the environment.

Last year, farmer protests erupted throughout the Netherlands, riding a wave of rural anger at government plans to drastically halve nitrogen emissions by downsizing and closing farms. This quickly swept the newly founded agrarian party, the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BoerBurgerBeweging, or BBB), to victory in last week’s provincial elections, making it the country’s biggest political party.

In the face of the farmer and nitrogen crisis, Dutch agriculture and environmental experts are calling for a change to the food system in a way that both reduces nitrogen emissions while addressing the financial and livelihood concerns of farmers, many of whom are in debt.

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