Prospects for farmers

Expected 2 December 2021
Farmers’ current revenue models are often incompatible with achieving sustainable agriculture. What do we need from the various links in the value chain in order to offer economic prospects to farmers?
Father with children in a cowshed

Background and request for advice

Agriculture faces major challenges on the way to sustainability. The Dutch government is committed to achieving closed cycles by 2030 and for the Netherlands to be in the vanguard of a circular economy in agriculture. Dutch farmers are trapped in a system that prioritises intensification and increases in scale. The agricultural value chain has to compete vigorously on the international stage, which requires a low cost price.

Farmers have become links in a chain of international companies, all of which earn more as farmers produce more. Animal feed companies, seed and pesticide suppliers, banks, insurance companies, machine manufacturers, supermarkets, etc., are all part of this chain. Farmers are torn between the desire to produce sustainably and the demands of the national and international markets. After all, government requirements for sustainability lead to measures that push up prices.

The 2021-2022 work programme states the question addressed in the advisory report as follows:

What are the future prospects for the Dutch agricultural sector, for the people who work in it and for the land managed by the agricultural sector under the conditions necessary for sustainability? How can the added value to society of sustainable agriculture be expressed in economic prospects for chain parties in the food sector? What frameworks are needed for this and what conditions does this set for managing the various links in the chain; and with which instruments can the government actively contribute to achieving the aspirations to create a sustainable and innovative top sector?


This advisory report is expected to be published on 2nd of December 2021.

Council committee

Krijn Poppe, Council member and committee chairperson

Pallas Agterberg, Council member

External committee members

Noelle Aarts (professor of Socio-Ecological Interactions, Radboud University)

Kees Oomen

Information or response: 

For more information about the advisory report, please contact project leader Nicole van Buren at or +31 (0)6-10172005.