On Friday 30 June, the Dutch government announced its intention to invest 129 million euros, subject to conditions, from the National Growth Fund (NGF) in the Re-Ge-NL innovation programme. This programme is designed to bring about the transition to a regenerative, profitable and socially supported agricultural sector.
The Re-Ge-NL programme proposal has been submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. It was developed by Next Food Collective, Wageningen University & Research, University of Groningen and Utrecht University in collaboration with 54 partners from across the food system. Farmers' cooperatives and networks, chain parties, financial institutions, knowledge & technology suppliers and educational & research institutions will jointly start implementation in 2024.
Regenerative agriculture combines food production with ecosystem restoration, improvement of soil fertility, water management and biodiversity. In addition, regenerative agriculture can make a positive contribution to the social and economic position of farmers. In this way, it contributes to solving the broad environmental problems of Dutch agriculture and responds to the growing market demand for sustainable food production.
Advisory Committee NGF: “The Re-Ge-NL proposal offers a possible solution to the broad agricultural, environmental problems and tries to accelerate the transition. For the average farmer, the switch to a regenerative way of working is sometimes unfeasible due to lack of knowledge, economic perspective or working examples. Re-Ge-NL addresses these bottlenecks through an integrated system approach and with bottom-up involvement of farmers. In this way, it will be demonstrated that and how a transition is possible.”
Together towards the new normal
The Re-Ge-NL programme aims to solve bottlenecks in the transition to regenerative agriculture in close cooperation with the sector. By demonstrating in practice that the transition is feasible and attractive, Re-Ge-NL ensures a system change and transition acceleration. The practical goal of the programme for 1,000 Dutch farmers to actually make the transition by 2030 and that at least 10,000 farmers and advisors gain knowledge about regenerative farming practices. The ultimate goal is for agriculture with a positive impact on nature and climate to become the new normal.
Peter Groot Koerkamp, professor of Agricultural Biosystems Engineering and coordinator for WUR's input into Re-Ge-NL: "A broad pallet of people from both Wageningen University and Wageningen Research from the social, environmental, plant and animal sciences have collaborated on the proposal and will collectively start supporting farmers and chain parties to make Regenerative Agriculture possible in the Netherlands.”
Wouter-Jan Schouten, Director of Sustainable Food Systems at Next Food Collective and director of the proposal: "With Re-Ge-NL we will create an international example for the transition to regenerative agriculture. This is possible because we work with a unique consortium of players from the entire food system, where the ownership for the transition lies with farmers' cooperatives and networks that all want to work on a great diversity of future-proof farm models and thus break the status quo as quickly as possible."
Maarten van Dam, of regenerative farm Schevichoven and agricultural projects agency Farwin: "We are proud of our regenerative permaculture at Schevichoven, but we cannot do it alone. We believe that Re-Ge-NL will remove obstacles and accelerate the transition: Simultaneously focusing on all bottlenecks such as sales, knowledge sharing and financing is the only way to cope with the urgency and make regenerative agriculture the new normal!"
Thanks to this investment from the NGF, the Netherlands is making its global leading position in Agri & Food future-proof. Furthermore, the sustainable earning capacity of the Netherlands is increasing by reducing environmental costs while maintaining profitable agricultural production, employment and exportable products and services.