Yesterday an evening of discussion took place in De Munk in Munkzwalm with European Parliament Member Hilde Vautmans about the
future of Flemish agriculture and food supply. This evening’s speakers were: Matthijs Verschraegen and Angelique De Clercq.
Hilde talked to farmer Mieke Verniest (Cleanest Farmer in Flanders, 2017 -2018), among others.
Some striking statements from the Open Vld politician.
“The crisis has reminded us that food security is a strategic asset of the EU. In any case, food and agriculture are back at the top of the political agenda.”
Hilde described everything in detail in her book ‘Boerentrots’, which features Mieke Verniest from Zwalm on the cover. After all, Hilde praised the Zwalm farmer for her delicious pork.
According to Vautmans, Natuurpunt is over-subsidized. I have nothing against those people because they take care of nature, but the way in which additional sites and land are purchased does raise questions.
We must give family farms a future. Companies must be able to grow to remain profitable.
Mieke Verniest from Zwalm did ask questions about the future. What legal certainty do farmers have today and when I look at our pig farm and analyze the results of the manure bank, the influence on the neighboring habitat is 0.016%, which is virtually negligible.
Diversification and respect
Diversification must be possible. Hilde Vautmans comes from the fruit region around St.-Truiden and remembers the boycott of our fruit by Russia. In her book she carefully describes how a fruit grower retrained as a winemaker.
“Farmers must get our respect. Day in, day out they work hard to put fresh food on everyone’s plate. The farming industry has had to reinvent itself. Today, farmers are modern entrepreneurs. The trade is not for everyone.”
About the possible expansion of the EU. There is talk of a possible expansion to include Ukraine and Moldova and some Balkan states. Naturally, agricultural policy must then be redesigned, otherwise too many resources will go to these new countries. Belgium will hold the EU presidency at the beginning of 2024, in which our Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will be closely involved.
Hilde Vautmans is also interested in the new European nature restoration law that is coming our way and which coincidentally received an agreement yesterday within the group of negotiators of the European Parliament. “The law was slightly amended (weakened) because otherwise we would face additional regulations and even more problems for the agricultural sector.”
The new Minister of Open Vld Gwendolyn Rutten within the Flemish government received the full support of Hilde Vautmans. “Gwendolyn is not only a good friend but the right woman in this position to help bring the nitrogen dossier to a successful conclusion.”
The audience present could ask questions and the evening concluded with a drink.