Dutch agriculture minister urges farm density curbs

Dutch agriculture minister Henk Bleker has proposed a curb on the number of animals that can be held on a single farm to avoid excessively large holdings in the country with the EU highest livestock density.

Limiting the number of animals would be part of measures to ensure a sustainable and socially acceptable livestock industry, the Netherlands’ ministry of economy, agriculture and innovation wrote on its website yesterday.

“In the Netherlands, there’s no room for extreme industrialisation of livestock holding,” said Mr Bleker. “I propose to set an upper limit for the number of animals per location.”

The Netherlands has the highest density of pigs and cattle per area of the 27 countries in the EU, Eurostat data show. There are about 291 Dutch pigs per square km, and 77 cows per square km.

The limits would allow family farms sufficient opportunity for “normal growth” and entrepreneurship, and “avoid excess”, said Mr Bleker.

Mr Bleker’s proposals include a limit of 400 to 500 dairy cows per farm, 1,500 to 2,000 sows, 7,000 to 10,000 meat pigs, 150,000 to 175,000 egg-laying hens or 200,000 to 240,000 broilers.

A debate in the Netherlands about so-called mega-stables has shown that large-scale livestock breeding is acceptable on condition that animals and environment are treated with care and risks to public health are minimal, the ministry said.

— Bloomberg

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