Some 20% of the Netherlands’ 5,000 pig farmers are in financial trouble, according to Rabobank, which counts four in five of them among its clients.
The bank says it expects the number of pig farmers to have halved in 10 years time and that it is currently working with farming organisations and the economic affairs ministry on a rescue plan.
In total, pig farmers owe the bank €2.4bn and Rabobank is in talks about the ‘future’ of 800 of them. ‘The pig sector needs to modernise and become more sustainable,’ Ruud Huirne, who heads the bank’s food and agriculture division, told broadcaster Nos.
Last month Dutch pig farmers sounded the alarm about their finances, saying they have been hit hard by the Russian boycott, low pork prices and tough Dutch rules on animal welfare.
MPs are due to debate the sector’s problems with junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma later today.
She said last month that she is not prepared to lower welfare and environmental standards or to put government cash into the sector.
In particular MPs from the ruling VVD and opposition CDA want the minister to take action. They want Dijksma to scrap animal welfare and environmental rules which are tougher than those imposed by the EU.
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