Dutch agency slams new farming policy

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The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency says the government’s new agricultural policy will cause problems relating to the environment, animal diseases and public health.

Under the plan, to be introduced in 2015, production limits are to be eliminated, which is likely lead to a bigger livestock herd. The plan also scraps European Union milk quotas. Both developments, the government agency predicts, will have an adverse effect on the environment.

The advantages of a system based on production limits aimed at controlling these risks outweigh the disadvantages, such as the amount of paperwork and the additional farmers incur, the agency says.

For the Dutch government, limiting the number of livestock is not a goal in itself but forms part of a wider policy designed to reduce environmental deterioration caused by fertilisers. This goal is achieved by imposing norms on the amount of nitrogen and phosphates that are allowed in artificial and animal fertilizers.

These norms, however, are going to be tightened. If the amount of livestock increases, farmers will have to pay more to get rid of their surfeits of fertilizers, the agency warns.

The move is most likely to hurt pig farmers as well as smaller family-owned farms, which could lose ground to mega-farms.

The agency is calling for an “integrated government vision”, not only concerning its fertilizer policy but also with regard to the structure and organisation of the cattle farm sector. cl

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide  

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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