AMSTERDAM — The European Commission said it approved two Dutch plans worth a combined 1.47 billion euros ($1.61 billion) to buy out livestock farmers to reduce nitrogen pollution, saying they are permissible under state aid rules.
The Dutch need to reduce excess nitrogen levels, caused in part by decades of intensive farming, a problem that has led to courts blocking important construction projects until the issue is resolved.
Discontent over government plans to address the problem until now date led to a major defeat for Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s governing coalition in regional elections in March.
Farm buyouts are seen as an important step toward a comprehensive plan to address the issue.
In the schemes approved by the European Union’s (EU) executive body, the Netherlands reserved the money to compensate farmers who voluntarily close farms located near nature reserves.
The plans will have “positive effects that outweigh any potential distortion of competition and trade in the EU,” the Commission said in a statement approving the aid. — Reuters