The Dutch agriculture ministry is to double the subsidy available for organic farming next year to euros 9m (DFL 19.8m), it was announced this week. Originally, only euros 4.5m was allocated to "green" farming in next year's budget. The increased funding aims at encouraging more farmers to switch to organic production. Subsidies for existing organic farms will be limited. There are about 1,000 organic farms in the Netherlands, covering 1-1.5% of the total cultivated land. According to a study by the Amsterdam-based Institute for Environmental Studies, the Netherlands is lagging behind most other northern EU-countries in the development of organic farming. Some 2% of the EU´s agricultural area is cultivated without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers (ENDS Daily 28 May). In addition to more money, the ministry is changing the way subsidies are paid. At the moment farmers get full subsidy on lost income during the five first years of their transition to organic farming. This amount will be reduced to only partially cover loss of income in future, with most funding to be concentrated in the first two years. The ministry of agriculture will present a new policy on organic farming early next year, which it hopes will provide further support for the sector.
Dutch agriculture ministry, tel: +31 70 378 6868; Institute for Environmental Studies, tel: +31 20 444 9555.
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