News / 4 May 2023

18 reasons for a Dutch agricultural policy with an international perspective

Our manifesto "The Dutch Agriculture Agreement reaches further than the Netherlands: offer prospects for sustainable farmers and consumers worldwide" has now been signed by over 70 civil society organisations, agricultural organisations and companies, environmental organisations and scientists from around the world. Below, a few of them give their personal motivation why they support the manifesto.

Andrew Adem, ESAFF Uganda: 'We know that the Netherlands is the world's second-largest exporter of agricultural products and is partnering with many governments, especially in the global south in agriculture and food. Because of that major global influence, the Netherlands should support an agricultural development model that promotes climate justice, enables local food producers and the development of local markets, and that reduces inequality worldwide.'

Bert van Ruitenbeek, Stichting Demeter: 'Biological dynamic agriculture is essentially about creating a living agrarian culture. Local, connected to the earth, the plants, the animals and the people in the surroundings and the landscape. Without chemicals. Marketed as much as possible locally and with minimum dependence on inputs from the agro-industry. The Netherlands has a responsibility to see agriculture in that broad international perspective and to promote food security at local level everywhere in the world. That's why we are supporting this manifesto.'

Eva Lia Colombo, WO=MEN: ' WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform believes that it is essential for Dutch agricultural policy to be gender responsive and to leave no one behind – especially women and girls in all their diversity – in line with the Netherlands' objective to pursue a Feminist Foreign Policy.'

Foodwatch Nederland: 'We urgently need to move towards a fair agricultural policy that is good for farmers, animals, consumers and the environment, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world. That's why Foodwatch has undersigned this manifesto.'

Guus Geurts, Food Justice Working Group & core team Voedsel Anders NL: 'It is urgent for farmers in the Netherlands, the EU and in the Global South that the current neoliberal WTO rules are abandoned and that the European Common Agricultural Policy based on them is radically reformed. The reintroduction of EU and global market regulation can not only ensure fair prices for farmers producing environmentally friendly products but also stop dumping and reduce the burden on scarce resources in the Global South.'

Hilke Jansen, The Hunger Project: 'Dutch agriculture has an enormous impact on the rest of the world: in a positive sense through our knowledge and know-how, but unfortunately also negatively through its excessively large footprint on nature and food security. The Hunger Project believes that must be changed and can be by implementing the eight concrete steps proposed in this manifesto.'

Janneke Hoekstra, Land van Ons: 'Stop importing cattle feed; that will have a positive impact in two ways: lower demand for crops from other countries and continents and thereby less deforestation, and a reduction in intensive cattle-breeding.'

Juan Lovera, HandelAnders!: 'By adopting the proposals in this manifesto, the government can take an important step towards worldwide policy coherence, not only on agriculture, but also on trade and climate.'

Karin van Boxtel, Both ENDS: 'Farmers in many countries outside Europe are suffering the consequences of trade agreements between their countries and the Netherlands or the EU. These agreements contain clauses limiting the use of and trade in indigenous seeds. This restricts the opportunities of small-scale farmers to adapt seeds and plants to quickly changing weather conditions and thus to ensure the supply of sufficient food.'

Kirsten Haanraads, WNF: 'Nature and agriculture are closely linked. That link can be used in a such way that nature and agriculture strengthen rather than work against each other. As an important player in the glob al food system, the Netherlands can make a significant contribution to achieving this aim.'

Maarten van Nieuw Amerongen, Woord en Daad: 'Farmers in both the Netherlands and the Global South are part of the same global food production system and face similar problems. Let the Agriculture Agreement contribute to a fairer distribution of income, knowledge and power in the sector.'

Maria Inckmann van Gaalen, Biodynamische Vereniging: 'Genuinely healthy agriculture is based on local cycles, with food from local sources and much attention to biodiversity – that applies not only to the Netherlands, but also to the countries that currently grow 'our' cattle feed.'

Nelleke Don, Slow Food Nederland: 'The Netherlands must change its role in the international food system, so that food becomes 'good, clean & fair' for everybody.'

Nout van der Vaart, Oxfam Novib: 'Dutch agriculture and our role in the worldwide food system have an enormous impact on farmers, the climate, food security, market development and the environment in the Global South.'

Paul van den Berg, Cordaid: 'Agricultural systems are responsible for around a third of global emissions of greenhouse gases, which are causing unprecedented periods of drought, flooding, rising sea levels and sedimentation. Small farmers in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and other low-income countries are bearing the brunt of these catastrophic changes. As one of the largest exporters of agricultural products, the Netherlands is making no small contribution to this problem.'

Tessa Terpstra, Save the Children: 'Dutch agricultural policy must take account of the affects it is having on children around the world. Children are especially hard hit if local food production is disrupted by the import of non-sustainably produced food from Western countries. And they suffer most if their families cannot sell their sustainable agricultural products because they cannot compete with cheaper products from the Netherlands. There is then not enough money for their education and a greater risk of them falling prey to child labour. Moreover, the stress they experience if their families are experiencing difficulties can lead to mental health problems.'

Violet Matiru, MCDI Kenya: 'We see the Netherlands applying double standards. They want to increase food security here, but at the same time they promote trade that does not benefit farmers and consumers in Kenya. A good example is the flower sector, in which the Netherlands is a leading actor. In a country like Kenya, where people are dying of hunger, flowers are being produced on a large scale that are non-edible and do not contribute to food security.'

Volkert Engelsman, EOSTA: 'Feeding the world is about a fairer distribution of prosperity; that does not improve if we make the third (and second) worlds more dependent on artificial fertilisers and pesticides from the first world that have a destructive impact on soil fertility and biodiversity, and therefore on the prosperity of local farmers.'

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