State of affairs
In 2002 the management of the Twickel Foundation was introduced to the idea ‘Farming for Nature' and saw an opportunity to improve the future perspective of the estate as well as that of the tenants. They approached Alterra to work out a plan. This resulted in a meeting in January 2003 with, apart from the delegates, members of the district water board, local councillors, members of parliament and Minister Veerman of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The minister was very enthusiastic about the rural pilot ‘Farming for Nature' at the Twickel Estate and was prepared to make funds available, but only if local parties would do so as well.
For the project a steering committee and a project group were formed. The steering committee consists of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the managers of the Twickel Foundation, the Province of Overijssel, the Municipality Hof van Twente, the region of Twente and the district water board Regge en Dinkel. The project group consists of: the vice-steward of Twickel, the tenant commission of Twickel, Alterra, the province of Overijssel, the district water board, the Government Service for Land and Water Management, and the Regional Office of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
First plans are ready
In 2003 the possibilities for Farming for Nature were looked into by Alterra and the zest amongst the tenants was sounded. Most of the tenants were positively sceptical about the idea. Concrete plans were designed for ten farms to be transformed into a nature oriented or a landscape oriented farm. These management plans were put together in the ‘Farming for Nature at Twickel, first phase' (confidential; not retrievable).
Fundraising and approval EC
The steering committee was successful in finding financiers for the pilot project. But the fundraising could only begin after a state aide procedure for ‘Farming for Nature'. In July 2006 the EC declared there was no objection against the methodology of compensation for the nature oriented farm according to the idea ‘Farming for Nature'. The approval was only given for the two pilot projects, on the basis of calculations for the dairy farms. August 2007 an additional request was made in Brussels for farms with suckler cows and sheep. A few months later this was approved as well.
In the report ‘Farming for Nature, an Economic Approach' (link) models are described by which the loss of income for the different farm types is assessed. Also the methodology is described according to which the economic evaluation in 5 to 10 years has to be carried out. Through this evaluation Brussels stays informed about the amount of compensation that ‘Farming for Nature' farmers receive.
The idea of the landscape oriented farms was embraced by Brussels, but in the decision of 2006 it was stated that the development of new landscape elements was supposed to be done with the existing instruments (the national AES SN). The project committee is looking for ways to make sure that the landscape oriented business, which is very important for Twickel, can still be realized. Possibly the catalogue Green-blue Services offers a solution (see: www.catalogusgroenblauwediensten.nl).
Finally the start
On 15 december 2007, during a festive gathering, a cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality, the Province of Overijssel, the municipality of Hof van Twente, the municipality of Hengelo, the Twente region, the water board Regge and Dinkel and the Twickel Foundation was signed. In this agreement parties confirmed their intention to jointly realize the project Farming for Nature on the Twickel Estate.
At the same meeting the tenants of Erve Bokdam, Loninkwoner and Bunte signed a 30-year subsidy agreement with the Province of Overijssel to establish a nature-oriented farm with focus on the strengthening of nature and landscape. This means that they only use manure and feed from the own farm, that no chemical pesticides will be applied, and that the farms will be set up according to the layout as designed for each farm.
On the same day, the landowner (Twickel Foundation) confirmed in an agreement that the related areas will be used according to the Farming for Nature principles.
Finally, the Province of Overijssel signed an agreement with the National Green Fund Foundation for a project account in order to provide a current account facility for the management of the funds, which the parties, united in the cooperation agreement Farming for Nature on Twickel Estate, made available for this project.
This was the start of the implementation of the project on Farming for Nature in the Twickel Estate.
Part of the vision Farming for Nature as it is written down in 'The worst land is the best' (2001) is that the implementation on behalf of the Governments would be done by a regional foundation. A foundation would be positioned closer to the participating farmers, could act more quickly and could actively recruit additional funds. In the pilot in South-Holland this was ultimately not the option that was chosen, but concerning the pilot in Twickel the creation of a private foundation was laid down in the cooperation agreement. On 7 May 2009, the Farming for Nature Twente Foundation was established. The Foundation's aim is to bring the pilot to a successful conclusion and in addition the ambition for a further scale-up has been set out. The foundation has taken over the implementation tasks of the province and is responsible for communication, promotion and education and for fundraising.