I think that the Netherlands should not throw its rich agricultural history overboard. I do not feel alone in that wish. It’s not just about the area where I was born and where my future as a farmer lies. Many more people feel connected to their region and do not want everything to be decided about their area from above.
A liveable countryside and a good earning model for the farmer are close to my heart. If we ask farmers to provide social and ecosystem services, then the government we choose must also provide a revenue model. I am convinced that a land bank can be a good means for this. More than a year ago I wrote an article about it on Foodlog and that got everyone talking. Also Frans Timmermans pale to poke for a land bank and the idea is now mentioned in the coalition agreement. The only question is whether we together have the same view of such a land bank. The coalition agreement leaves room for different interpretations. That’s why I’m not sure yet.
The coalition agreement states: “With a land bank, we make it easier for young farmers to get in and find development space. This land bank allocates freed land for the extensification, conversion and relocation of farms of farmers who would like to continue and for nature.”
As an area, we can think for ourselves about our living environment. The government is necessary, but in a different role: as a participant.
The entire coalition agreement is bursting with dots on the horizon. There is no lack of ambition, but of space. I argue that there are no ‘released grounds’ at all. The coalition agreement devotes one paragraph to the purpose of a land bank and 9 pages to the climate, nitrogen and housing issues.
There is a list of people who need land. Land for nature, land for houses, land for industry and land for roads.
Much of the land that is needed is now just farmland.
The issues and challenges hinder the conceptual development of a land bank. There is therefore a risk that we are mainly concerned with solving today’s problems and not thinking about future prospects for agriculture and the countryside. This way you miss the opportunity of the land bank.
I dare to say that the Netherlands needs a bottom-up approach that starts with the question of what the residents of an area want. You need sounding board groups with farmers and citizens. In this way you can take the barriers at farmers seriously and everyone is involved together in what is happening in the countryside. Together you create a regional land bank. He purchases land and releases it again with conditions that you draw up with the sounding board group and an appropriate lease price. As an institution, the land bank must be autonomous and must therefore remain at a distance from the political issues of the day. The bank implements the long-term policy drawn up by the sounding board group. In this way, the land bank provides vital agriculture in a vital countryside where you can feel at home together and where you feel jointly responsible. This creates a robust perspective.
The government is necessary, but in a different role: as a participant. As an area, we can think for ourselves about our living environment. That is why we are already taking up the challenge and not waiting for regulations from above. Does the government still have trust in initiatives of citizens who take their responsibility, as Pieter Winsemius suggested 10 years ago, as the basis for a new governance culture? We hope so.
Together with a proud and mixed Alblasserwaard-Vijfheerenlanden group, Chris is currently working out what a land bank should look like..
We wish to say thanks to the author of this write-up for this outstanding content
You build the Grondbank in the country, not in The Hague – Government, have confidence in farmers and citizens when redesigning the Netherlands – Foodlog