Dutch governments own more than 190,000 hectares of agricultural land. Provinces and municipalities also own large areas of agricultural land in Groningen and Drenthe.
A study by the Land Registry and Wageningen Economic Research shows that 11 percent of the Dutch agricultural area is owned by the government.
With 53,000 hectares, Staatsbosbeheer is the organization with the largest area of agricultural land. Much of this land primarily has a nature function with additional agricultural use. Municipalities and the Central Government Real Estate Agency also own large amounts of agricultural land, 46,000 and 43,000 hectares respectively.
Defense training areas
The provinces and water boards follow at some distance with 21,000 and 11,000 hectares of agricultural land. Part of the water boards’ assets consist of dikes that, in addition to their water retaining function, are also grazed by livestock. The drinking water companies and the Ministry of Defense also have considerable land.
The latter in the Northern Netherlands includes the training areas Marnewaard (1,625 hectares), Havelte (784 hectares), De Haar (450 hectares) and Witterveld (503 hectares).
Much agricultural land in Groningen and Drenthe belongs to the government
According to the Land Registry, the government owns a total of 10,600 hectares in Groningen, compared to 12,600 in Drenthe. The Frisian government has 14,600 hectares. The leader is Flevoland, where more than a third of the available agricultural area of 88,000 hectares is in the hands of the government. The government also has a lot of land in North Brabant: 28,000 hectares.
Some of these government lands are on the balance sheet of municipalities. Groningen is listed by the Land Registry as one of the municipalities with significant land ownership. This was previously estimated at around 2,200 hectares, mainly intended to enable future new construction. Assen has also purchased several hundred hectares of agricultural land for urban expansion.
Space needed for houses and nature
Governments are not only buying up agricultural land because they are looking for places for housing, they also need space for industry and roads. Plots of land are also purchased for the construction of new nature. Furthermore, in view of the energy transition, more places will be needed for wind and solar parks in our country.
According to the Land Registry, the average price for agricultural land increased by 6.2 percent in the last quarter of last year. The land price for the whole of 2023 amounted to 78,800 euros per hectare, more than 7 percent more than in 2022. There are major regional differences. The average land price ranges from 59,500 euros in Friesland to 177,000 euros for a hectare in Flevoland. In Groningen, a hectare costs approximately 69,500 euros, compared to 71,900 in Drenthe.