Adri Bom-Lemstra, who is she?
Adri Bom-Lemstra is the chair of Greenport West-Holland. “I understand the importance of national cooperation. By exchanging expertise and joining forces on themes that play a national role, we can make a difference. I am committed to making our innovative Dutch horticultural sector even stronger", she says.

Dutch horticulture is concentrated in the province of Zuid-Holland and in the Wieringermeer in the province of Noord-Holland. It exports over 90% of its produce, mainly tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and flowers and plants.

Regional Minister
As a regional minister, Adri Bom-Lemstra is responsible for economic development & innovation, horticulture and agriculture. She is committed to a healthy and safe province of South Holland. "By supervising rules on air quality, the environment and noise pollution. By thinking about how to prepare our towns and villages for extreme heat and rain. By ensuring that our farmers and horticulturists can produce enough healthy food. Innovation and cooperation are very important in this respect."

As a regional minister she serves the public interest, whereas the Greenport serves private interests. Curious to see how she combines these two roles? Watch the interview here.

We certainly need to keep sufficient production in the Netherlands to maintain our expertise advantage, but it's a no brainer that we need to reduce production in the Netherlands
What does the Green Deal mean for Dutch horticulture?
“I see the Green Deal as a huge opportunity for the horticulture cluster”, Adi Bom says confidently. “This is an opportunity we must seize. The modus operandi in the Netherlands – the triple helix – matches the Green Deal perfectly.” What Europe strives for, namely high-quality production with less water and less energy, “is our expertise. We should join the Green Deal.”

To achieve this, clear guidance of the governments is required. The role of horticulture in the food system needs to be discussed, Bom believes. This provides focus for businesses. “Where lies the future for Dutch companies? We certainly need to keep sufficient production in the Netherlands to maintain our expertise advantage, but it's a no brainer that we need to reduce production in the Netherlands”, Bom says.

The cluster output must stay substantial to sustain its learning and innovation abilities. Knowledge is an argument to keep up a large part of the scale in The Netherlands that currently feeds an impressively large part of Europe. At the same time horticulture entrepreneurs now produce and spread their expertise in other parts of Europe. “That is something we'd better organize more as a cluster together”, Bom states critically.

Government, make clear what you expect from us
Drawing Table
Bom also responded to a video with Berry Marttin, head agri and food at Rabobank International. He declares that the standards for sustainability are not clearly and unambiguously formulated. “If we want a carbon neutral Europe, we have to go back to the drawing board”, he says.

Bom completely agrees. “I believe in the collaboration within this network. However, it is also important that networks know where to go. Government, make clear what you expect from us. Frameworks are needed to lead the way.” Where Marttin believes the world needs a Paris agreement on food, Bom calls for a European food agreement. She proposes that goals should be defined in Europe's political center. However, they must be developed locally, complying with well defined and ambitious criteria sets by politics.

Once the frameworks are there, businesses know best how to fill those in. “We'll have regular meetings to discuss the progress.” Bom is optimistic: “The horticultural agreement of all greenports in The Netherlands includes clear goals. I believe that this sector will be the first to achieve the climate agreement goals.”

Green Deal
The EU has the ambition to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050, EU president Ursula von der Leyen and vice president Green Deal Commissioner Frans Timmermans declared in December 2019. This will happen, as the European Committee plans, "by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all." It's a huge ambition. As soon as it came out, it was criticized for not being very specific on the criteria and metrics. And thus, not being specific on the results the spending of €1 trillion of public money breeds on its way till 2050.

Agriculture and Food are an integral part of the Green Deal. In a dedicated chapter called the 'Farm to Fork Strategy' , the goals for the food systems were announced. The Commission will take action to:
  1. reduce by 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030
  2. reduce by 50% the use of more hazardous pesticides by 2030
  3. reduce nutrient losses by at least 50%, while ensuring no deterioration on soil fertility
  4. reduce fertilizer use by at least 20% by 2030

Furthermore, the Commission will reduce by 50% the sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 2030. It will boost the development of EU organic farming area with the aim to achieve (25% of total farmland) under organic farming by 2030. Bom believes regional processes should decide on the way the goals will be met and proposes to discuss the matter with Timmermans since he seems to advocate a more top down approach. Well executed bottom up regional processes will be more spot on, Bom says.