“Don’t rule out bankruptcy, choose the right path”

In March, the Dutch House of Representatives received an inventory of the sector. It shows that due to high gas prices, 40% of horticultural businesses could experience financial problems within six months. So writes Climate Minister Rob Jetten in a letter.

This is in response to parliamentary questions on the report on ‘High gasoline prices force nearly half of greenhouse growers to shut down permanently or temporarily‘. Jetten also says he will brief the House of Representatives on the issues for the greenhouse horticulture sector at the end of April.

According to Minister Jetten, it is impossible to estimate how many businesses could go bankrupt or stand empty this winter if circumstances or energy costs remain unchanged. “Gas prices fluctuate and the gas market situation is very uncertain. There are also very different signals from the sector. Growers offer creative solutions for less intensive winter cultivation. Of course, we share the concerns and the urgency. energy prices cause problems,” the minister writes.

“We are discussing this with the sector and the banks. But we cannot rule out that some companies will go bankrupt and call on the sector to take the right path. It must invest in sustainability and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. It is necessary to achieve our climate goals. But the Netherlands must also reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, and the sector must become more resilient to high and volatile energy prices. Everyone will have to contribute. And, from a commercial, it is necessary for the sector too.”

Jetten recognizes that a large-scale bankruptcy in the Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector would have a direct impact on other sectors. “Within the horticultural cluster there is close cooperation between horticulturists, suppliers, trade and technology. If many growers go bankrupt, this will affect the entire horticultural cluster in the Netherlands.”

Jetten was also asked about switching to sustainable sources, like geothermal power, and admitted that such alternatives often take time. “You could realize other options, such as, for example, solar heat, in a shorter time. This does not mean that the transition has only just begun and that there are no concrete choices. Several Projects are already at an advanced stage and companies are working on energy savings and crop modifications that use less gas for heating and electricity for lighting.”

Many companies are now also applying for the Energy Efficiency Greenhouse Horticulture (EG) grant program. “The current situation once again shows the urgency and the need to accelerate the climate and energy transition. At the end of April, the government will provide information on the development of the coalition agreement and the climate and energy transition in the ‘greenhouse horticulture’, writes the minister. .

At the end of April, so around now, we should have more information on the government’s intentions for the greenhouse horticulture sector. “We will focus in particular on the development of the coalition agreement, the importance of energy savings and the acceleration of the energy and climate transition. We will continue to exchange with the sector and the banks on the means of accelerate this transition in the short term. We will also discuss what individual companies can do in the short term.”

As things stand, it is even more urgent for the sector to quickly become less dependent on fossil fuels, to save more and more energy and to switch to the use of other energy sources, says Jetten. “For this, the sector must also take real measures. We are looking at what we can do for companies. However, we are not going to compensate for the high petrol prices.”

“High energy prices affect everyone; they affect the whole of the Netherlands. This reinforces the need for rapid action on energy saving and climate transition. I also want to attract the attention to the European Commission’s plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian gas while accelerating the energy transition (REPowerEU),” he wrote.

You can read the whole letter (in Dutch) here.