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Minister wants farm size limits, no more than 10,000 pigs

Tuesday 05 June 2012

Farm minister Henk Bleker on Tuesday published plans to limit the size of factory farms because 'there is no room in the Netherlands for extreme industrial farming'.

Although no figures have yet been decided, Bleker told parliament in a briefing he was thinking along the lines of a maximum 500 dairy cows, 10,000 pigs, 240,000 broiler chickens, 2,000 goats and 2,000 veal calves.

After the proposal has been discussed with farming organisations and other interest groups, the limits would either be enshrined in law or in a covenant with the industry, Bleker said.

Change of heart

Last November, Bleker told MPs the cabinet had no plans to introduce a maximum size for factory farms.

It is up to provinces and local authorities to combat the drive towards ever bigger farms, the minister said. The government will only intervene in the size of a farm if 'public health, socio-economic effects or ethics' make it necessary.

However, Bleker urged local councils to continue to hold back mega-farm developments pending the outcome of a health council report on the likely effect on public health of farms with thousands of animals. That report is due in the third quarter of next year.

Cows and pigs

According to research by Wageningen University earlier this year, the Netherlands now has some 242 ‘mega’ factory farms for cows and pigs compared with just 95 five years ago. A mega-farm is defined by the Alterra institute as one which has 7,500 pigs or 250 dairy cows or 2,500 veal calves.

Most of the mega-farms are in Noord-Brabant, Overijssel, Limburg and Gelderland provinces, where they have generated considerable local protest.

The Netherlands is one of the most animal-intensive farming countries in the world, with annual production of 450 million animals and birds for consumption.

The move towards mega-farms is part of continuing consolidation in farming. Last year, the Netherlands had some 50,000 livestock farms, compared with 78,000 10 years ago.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

So each 'mega' factory farm owner will have to split his farm into 2 smaller farms to align with the new rules? Can they on cannot they be next to each other? Nothing will change. Just more paper work.

By jpawlo | 5 June 2012 3:03 PM

Since when does Bleker advocate smaller farms? The bigger the better, the worse the animals are off, the better, the more money is being made over the backs of defenseless creatures which are reared under truly horrific conditions never see daylight, are forced to live against their nature and get fed garbage and their own species even herbivores? Really, much ado about nothing. Animal cruelty is the norm in this country. Money only talks.

By Abigail B. | 5 June 2012 7:31 PM

So that explains why meat products here are such poor quality, and very little choice of fresh meat cuts. It's "fresh" from the factory, not from the farm. I just hope they hurry up and perfect in-vitro meat so they can stop factory farming altogether.

By Anne Onymous | 6 June 2012 12:32 AM

@Abigail, are you saying that in your fatherland there is no factory farming? Factory farming is a worldwide problem. Yes, it even exists in English speaking countries. I know, almost unbelievable.

By tim | 6 June 2012 10:33 AM

The issue is simple: there isn't enough land in Europe (or in the World for that matter) to raise animals all free-range and with plenty of space.

Factory farms should be allowed with some regulation.

Those "horrified" by the method of raising animals for meat can just become vegetarians or vegans and leave the 80% of population who eats meat alone.

By Andre L. | 7 June 2012 11:20 PM

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