The theme of agriculture, fisheries and food is closely linked to other themes, such as climate justice and animal rights. The position of the agricultural sector as a profession is also important. This interwovenness makes this subject extra challenging. BIJ1 takes all aspects into account. Collaboration with nature and the pursuit of sustainability are a key factor in this. BIJ1 wants to take strong action against the impoverishment of our nature, without compromising food security and the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen. We want to fight climate change, make agriculture and fisheries sustainable and move towards a sustainable food system. Farmers and fishermen must be supported in these processes.
Agriculture in the Netherlands is already suffering the consequences of the climate crisis and the exploitation of our own land. The health of the land is being put under extreme strain by excessive use and pollution. Biodiversity has been eradicated and the country has lost its natural resilience. This resilience is needed in order to recover from difficult periods, such as drought and extreme rainfall. That is why BIJ1 wants to focus on green agriculture.
AGRICULTURE OF THE FUTURE
The aim of Dutch agriculture should be to produce what we can eat. We want to get away from the current situation in which international competitiveness is so important that food is destroyed and small farmers get in trouble. The price of agricultural products is kept low with the help of subsidies, because we want to compete on the international market. However, the subsidies are not sufficient, making it impossible for farmers to abandon their destructive and polluting practices.
We advocate the transformation of agriculture to produce according to local needs and we are drawing up programmes that will make agriculture sustainable in 10 years’ time.We need to invest in affordable sustainability of the sector for future-proof, circular agriculture.It is also important for the preservation of the nature we still have, that livestock numbers are greatly reduced and that farmers are helped to convert manure into less nitrogenous forms.
The North Sea is also struggling. We are currently working on a North Sea agreement, in which it emerges that fisheries must be made more sustainable and cut back. In order to give the North Sea the chance to recover and adapt, it is important that local populations of fish are maintained and given the opportunity to grow.
(HEALTHY) FOOD SECURITY AT THE FOREFRONT
In addition to the basic right to care, housing and education, BIJ1 believes that everyone also has the basic right to food. However, that security is under pressure. More and more people have to use Food Banks and too many children go to school in the morning without having breakfast. A lot goes wrong in our food system. Healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables have seen their prices go up by over 40% between 2000 and 2017, while wages haven’t nearly risen as much. And while people suffer from hunger, the Netherlands wastes hundreds of millions of kilos of food every year. The food system therefore does not match supply and demand, undermines everyone’s basic right to food and stimulates the sale of unhealthy products. That must change. We propose the following policy changes in the areas of agriculture, fisheries and food.
THE TRANSITION TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
- We’ll draw up programmes that will make agriculture sustainable in ten years’ time. To this end, we will create subsidies and impose high taxes on the use of insecticides and on methane and CO2 emissions.
- Farmers currently produce more than 80% of their produce for export. By focusing more on local production, a lot of transport and therefore pollution will disappear. This is done in consultation with the ecological agricultural sector.
- Large (millionaire) farms are placed in community hands to secure food production. In this way we ensure that the agricultural sector will do much more for domestic consumption and will be less influenced by capitalist market forces.
- There will be a ban on toxic pesticides and disinfectants.
- The government will actively support the production of organic and plant-based products. To this end, VAT on (organic) fruit and vegetables will be reduced to 0%.
- The authorities must take an active role at European level in the price policies for agricultural products.
PROTECTING FISH AND COMBATING OVERFISHING
- At present, checks on fishing boats are scarcely carried out, if at all, badly. As a result, fishermen are given a licence to fish above legal guidelines. This is a necessity for them in order to remain competitive in the market. This illegal overfishing must be dealt with severely: there will be strictly regulated zones where fishing will be banned. There will be a better regulation of what is caught.
- Boats should leave their radar on permanently, so that their location is always clear and controllable. The quantity of checks on fishing boats will be stepped up, for example by creating an additional independent branch within the Coast Guard. This branch will be specially set up to regulate fishing.
A SUSTAINABLE AND FAIR FOOD POLICY
- Food monopolies will be banned.
- We will develop a National Food Security Plan, in which the government takes more control over the prices of food and guarantees that everyone living or staying in the Netherlands is always guaranteed food. This plan will be drawn up in cooperation with food banks, supermarkets and other food suppliers.
- We are going to look for ways of breaking up supermarket chains and deprivatizing them with the establishment of employee self-governance. A small group should not make a great deal of profit on basic needs, and supply and demand should be brought in line with each other.
- Food businesses are encouraged to switch to ecological principles. There will be legal standards for the maximum salt and sugar content in products.
- Healthy eating must be accessible to all, regardless of income: VAT on fruit and vegetables will be reduced to zero.
- Subsidies to livestock farming will be phased out entirely. Instead, subsidies are being used to support small and medium-sized farmers in the shift towards a more plant-based food system.