Today, Flanders has the most high-quality agriculture and horticulture in Europe, and that is partly due to the interest groups. That is what Minister of Agriculture Jo Brouns (CD&V) said in ‘De Morgen’ (Radio 1), in a reaction to the report by ‘Pano’ about the nitrogen crisis and the role of the Boerenbond as an interest group. Such organizations advise farmers, “but it is the entrepreneur himself who has to make the choices,” Brouns said.
In the report, a few farmers were given the floor who question the role of the Boerenbond, partly because the organization would “always” advise expanding. Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) already responded that the Boerenbond bears a “crushing responsibility” for the painful situation in which farmers find themselves today. “And instead of taking their responsibility, they ask to adjust the nitrogen policy. Just because that fits in with their business model: more money for the Boerenbond holding, while our farmers are fighting for a fair price,” says Demir.
In his response, Minister Brouns emphasized that agriculture, as a fully-fledged economic sector, is also looking for sufficient returns. “A price that is too low and a valuation that is too low is often the problem, which means that upscaling is often the answer. But for certain sectors that is not always the right answer, so we have to look at the revenue models differently: diversify more, look for other markets, more spreading risk, becoming less dependent on price… Those are the challenges we face with the sector.”
Asked about the role of the Boerenbond, Brouns said it is one of the interest groups “that work for their members”. “The fact that we are where we are today and that we have the most high-quality agriculture and horticulture in Europe in Flanders is partly to their credit. They advise their farmers, but it is the entrepreneur himself who has to make the choices. And If that choice has not been the right one in the past, then it should be possible in the future.” The Boerenbond is a very important interest group, according to Brouns.
Also read: Demir: “Boerenbond bears crushing responsibility for painful situation in which farmers now find themselves”
See also: Minister Demir on nitrogen emissions
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