Tuesday 21 March 2023

Cattle herd to be cut by 30% over next decade to meet nitrogen targets

The government aims to reduce the total number of cattle by 30% in the next seven years, mainly by buying out farmers.

Documents from the coalition talks were made public on Wednesday that revealed the cabinet had opted for the more ambitious of two plans drawn up by the environmental planning agency PBL.

The government needs to cut nitrogen oxide emissions drastically in order to meet its environmental targets in line with a ruling by the Council of State three years ago.

A total of €30bn has been set aside to buy out farmers or help them modernise their farms to make them more sustainable. The buyouts alone are expected to cost a total of €17bn.

A cheaper plan costing €9bn would have involved buying up livestock production rights rather than farms outright, but ministers decided it would not reduce emissions sufficiently.

The ruling parties said in the coalition agreement that they would not rule out forcing farmers to sell their land if they were unable to find enough volunteers.

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