This study seeks to show that the 'manure problem' has been a catalyst in the transformation of the agricultural policy community. Its solid corporatist structure, developed in the postwar reconstruction period and flourishing in the 1960s and 1970s, has been weakened by growing external pressure and internal dissent. Although the first warnings about the pollutant effects of manure surpluses were already being ventilated at the end of the 1960s, the development of manure legislation only began in 1987. Delaying tactics used by both the Ministry of Agriculture and the agricultural lobby had led to a tremendous accumulation of problems. The efforts to make up for lost time have provoked great tension not only between the government and the farmers' unions but also inside the state apparatus - between the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment - and within the agricultural lobby.
As a result, the neo-corporatist system in agriculture is gradually being replaced by a set up of greater openness and pluriformity. Central regulation by government is giving way to 'self-regulation' by agricultural organizations which requires demands being made on the sense of responsibility and the initiative of individual farmers.