Farmers are facing further changes to the fertilizer rules to protect water. The coalition factions of the SPD, Greens and FDP agreed on a planned amendment to the Fertilizer Act, as they announced on Friday in Berlin. This is intended to avert penalties from the EU, give companies more planning security and protect resources. The cabinet launched a draft by Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) in May 2023. The parliamentary groups have now agreed on changes for a resolution in the Bundestag.

Among other things, the law is intended to create a basis for fertilizer data from farms to be checked and evaluated. “Monitoring” is intended to determine how effective the fertilizer rules are. Green party deputy Julia Verlinden said this ensures that companies that operate sustainably and protect water and soil are relieved.

FDP parliamentary group vice-president Carina Konrad said they could then be exempt from requirements and restrictions on fertilization if they can be proven not to be the cause of water pollution. SPD parliamentary group deputy Matthias Miersch spoke of a “good balance” between high protection standards and the interests of farmers in practical fertilizer rules.

The background to this is Germany’s ongoing disputes with the EU Commission over high levels of nitrate contamination in groundwater. Fertilizer requirements have recently been tightened several times.