Happy cows

Is farm minister Gerda Verburg completely mad? Yesterday she published her vision to transform Dutch livestock farming, saying that she wants to make it more sustainable within 15 years time.

There should be an end to animal suffering (tail docking or your beak clipping), an end to long-distance animal transport (taking Dutch piglets to Italy to be made into Parma ham) and animal feed should be locally sourced (not shipped in from the US).
It is an ambitious and laudable plan but, alas, totally unlikely to succeed because the minister wants to achieve all this through covenants and voluntary agreements with the farmers.
The Netherlands is the second biggest agricultural exporter in the world after the US and produces over 15% of the meat and egg products used in the EU.
This dominant position has been achieved at a price – massive intensive factory farms which meet the Dutch and European need for cheap food.
Farming isn’t about happy cows in the pasture any more – after all, 15% of Dutch cows never see the light of day.
Does Verburg really think that farmers are going to voluntarily do anything which will make their products more expensive and consquently damage business? If she does, she really is green.

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