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News 266 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Dutch minister calls for sustainable farming

Dutch Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg has ambitious plans for the sector. She said that livestock farming in the Netherlands must become more sustainable by 2023.

In the coming 15 years, animal production should be more climate and energy neutral; meaning that the sector needs to cut down the ammonia and dust emission, said Verburg. This can be done by introducing new type of housing for example. The Minster also wants a stronger focus on animal health, access to light and improved living and transport conditions.

The bulk of materials for animal feeds should come from Europe to minimize feed products imports and to help ensure sustainability standards, the ministry said. Henk Flipsen, Director of animal feed organisation Nevedi agrees with this, but stresses that he is worried about who will pay for the extra costs associated with this. He said that Verburg also needs to say that the consumers are in the end paying for this.

Crossroads
According to Verburg, the Dutch livestock sector is on an important crossroads. The period after the Second World War was focused on increased production, resulting in environmental problems and animal diseases in the 80's and 90's. Now is the time, Verburg said, to focus on quality instead of quantity.

The Minster will discuss her visions this year with farmers, suppliers, processing industry, the supermarkets and social organisations. To make the changes happen, she wants to use different tools such as subsidies, taxes and education.

"No real measures"
The Dutch green party "GroenLinks" is disappointed in the vision of Verburg. The party says that Verburg can not make substantiate claims regarding her mission for livestock improvement. GroenLinks calls for 'real' measures to make the livestock production more sustainable, including stricter rules for manure and environment; a tax on meat and cheaper ecological products.

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