NL has fewer pig farms, but little change in the number of pigs

Pigs on a factory farm. Photo:
Pigs on a factory farm. Photo:

The number of Dutch farms keeping pigs has gone down some 400 to 3,600 in the past year, but there has been little impact on the size of the national pig herd, according to new figures from national statistics office CBS.

In total, there are now some 12 million pigs on Dutch farms, down 1.2% on the year, according to preliminary figures.  A farm now has an average of 3,400 pigs.

The drop in the number of pig farms is due to a government scheme which ran from 2013 to 2019 to encourage farmers to quit in an effort to reduce the manure mountain, the CBS said. A new scheme has been introduced in 2020.

There may be slightly fewer pigs in the Netherlands but there has been a 0.7% increase in the number of beef cattle – now numbering 3.8 million – and a 4.3% rise in the number of goats.

Meanwhile news website reports that Dutch farmers have so far weathered the coronavirus crisis fairly well, particularly poultry farms.

And while incomes were down in some sectors, these are likely to recover, Roel Jongeneel, a researcher with Wageningen Economic Research told the website.

‘Poultry farmers are doing better than before the crisis and egg prices have been higher than average for some time,’ he said.

This, he said, is because more people are baking at home, and therefore using lots of eggs. ‘At the beginning of the crisis, eggs were being hoarded, leading to empty shelves,’ he said. The home baking trend has also boosted agrarian farmers who produce grains for flour.

Farmers who grow potatoes for the French fries industry have been hardest hit, he said, because of the decline in demand from restaurants and snack bars.

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