Dairy farmer Alien Jalvingh prefers not to call himself a farmers wife. “Farmer is almost an epithet nowadays. That is a pity.”
Jalvingh believes that farmers are wrongly blamed for many problems. And shes certainly not the only one in that. “We are consistently referred to as a culprit,” says Yvonne Sloots, grower of sugar beet, rhubarb and potatoes. “The Hague must abandon the natural distrust of the agricultural sector.”
They find that they are held responsible for the nitrogen problems unjustified. “In my view, the numbers are not right, and many colleagues think that way,” says Sloots. Yet research shows that, despite the reduction in emissions in recent decades, farmers are together the biggest polluters.
Jalvingh emphasises that Dutch farmers produce relatively sustainable and efficient. “If our production takes place elsewhere, pollution would be much higher.” But she also acknowledges, “Maybe there are a little too many farmers.”
Sloots and Jalvingh are members of rural womens organisation Vrouwen van Nu, the successor of the Nederlandse Bond van Boerinnen. It is the traditional base of CDA and VVD. But the farmers are disappointed in the agricultural policy of this cabinet. “Certainly we expected otherwise from farmers daughter Carola Schouten. She didnt really stand up for agriculture.”
Who will their vote to in March, now that they have largely lost faith in politics?