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The Netherlands as a Leader in Circular Agriculture
Farming, horticulture and fisheries are essential sectors. Farmers, growers and fishermen feed the people. How this is done – globally – today, is not sustainable. Our planet can no longer sustain the burden of the current production methods and consumer behaviour. Our current system of agriculture is a supply chain, consisting of actors who each aim to gain the greatest economic bene t. Each party uses the raw materials at its disposal and processes these at the lowest costs and with the highest yield. However, individual parties still insufficiently consider the system as a whole. Regulation is also still mostly focused on parts of the system. This is a serious flaw, because the system contains many leaks, wastages, inefficiencies and other undesirable effects. The leaching of minerals from the soil and non-productive use of the large waste flows from production are examples of this. This is untenable, because we only have one planet, with a limited supply of renewable raw materials. Furthermore, this style of production damages the ecosystem by putting pressure on biodiversity, contaminating soil, water and air and changing the planet into a greenhouse that, in the long term, will render large areas unliveable and unproductive. Fisheries are experiencing a similar pattern on a global scale, where individual entrepreneurs are powerless and therefore unable to contribute to sustainable management of natural capital, which can lead to over fishing. Fishing has traditionally formed the economic basis of many villages and towns and is linked in cultural-historical terms with its surroundings. However, less and less space seems to be available for fisheries. In the North Sea, for example, space is increasingly being allocated to generation of sustainable energy, and nature conservation measures put limitations on fishing activities. The discussions in Europe about pulse fishing and the landing obligation (or discards ban) are making the entrepreneurial climate uncertain for fishermen. Cost reductions and production increases also lead to pressure on the living environment. In the Netherlands, this has come at the expense of biodiversity, the environment, the quality of drinking water and the attractiveness of the landscape. Over time, these factors, as well as urbanisation and the reduction of the agricultural working population, have led to a considerable divide between farmers and citizens. The latter have little knowledge about the origins of their food. As a result, farmers and growers do not always feel valued and appreciated for the work they do providing people’s daily food and drink. Things need to change.
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