Future livestock farm projects in the Netherlands will most probably have to be built within size limits, the Dutch government has announced.
In plans announced last week, Dutch agriculture deputy minister Henk Bleker is working on legislation to limit the size of farms in specific locations. These limits will depend on ethical reasons, reasons of public health or social-economic effects.
He emphasised that the limits will only apply to extreme cases. Family farms will continue to be able to develop until the size of 300-400 cattle; 900 sows; 6,000 finisher pigs; 200,000 broilers or 100,000 layers, he said. Local authorities will decide on whether farms will fit into their surroundings.
Creating a more sustainable livestock industry is another requirement for the future. The Dutch government wishes to see that the 2020 livestock industry is safe, healthy, top quality and socially accepted, with special attention for animal welfare and care for animals. Risks for public health ought to be minimised – and mineral consumption should be fully controlled.
The Dutch government has indicated that the sustainability is all up to the industry to build. Referring to an earlier report, Bleker said only sustainably produced meat should be found in supermarkets by 2020. “National authorities will only facilitate this process,” Bleker said, leaving room for a level playing field in the European market.
A mixed bag of reactions could be heard from the political scene. Worries have been voiced about a lack of attention for livestock producers, as well as a lack of ambition in the plans. Animal welfarists and environmentalists repeated their demand that large livestock houses ought to be banned rightaway.