Farmers urge Flemish Government to 'seek solutions'

Farmers urge Flemish Government to 'seek solutions'
Credit: Belga

Lode Ceyssens, president of the Flemish agricultural union Boerenbond, on Friday called on the Government of Flanders to "stop showing muscle and work towards a solution" in the 'Nitrogen Plan' dossier.

He has also warned that his organisation did not rule out taking the case to court if a "bad agreement" is reached.

The Boerenbond welcomed the large number of participants in Friday's demonstration in central Brussels, which involved at least 2,700 tractors, according to police.

"Brussels will become too small; a large number of tractors have come, not to mention all those participating from their areas," the union said, calling on the regional government to "stop showing its muscles and holding nightly meetings."

Boerenbond threatens possible legal action

"Work out solutions that ensure the safety of our food production and give the agricultural and horticultural sector prospects for the future," the Boerenbond urged.

In the event of a "bad agreement", the Boerenbond does not rule out taking the matter to court.

Many young farmers took part in Friday's protest, comprising a third of the 3,000 demonstrators, according to the organisation of young farmers and horticulturalists, Groene Kring.

The young farmers called on the Flemish government to protect the future of their profession. "The government must take into account the older farmers who will go out of business: this will lead to lower nitrogen emissions," Groene Kring chairman Bram Van Hecke said.

Nitrogen emitters in the spotlight

The Flemish government was scheduled to meet again on Friday afternoon to reach agreement on this thorny issue, which has been plaguing the N-VA/CD&V/Open Vld coalition in Flanders for months.

While the regional government agreed a year ago on a major nitrogen plan, several partners, including the Flemish Christian Democrats, CD&V, believe farmers are too hard hit by the planned restrictions.

In particular, there is talk of closing down farms deemed excessively large emitters, with CD&V proposing such a step for the first time ever.

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