EU Approves Dutch Plan for Massive Shutdown of Livestock Raising

European Union authorities on May 2 approved the Dutch government’s plan to offer €1.5 billion in buy-out payments to some 3,000 farmers, mainly livestock producers, to shut down in the Netherlands, on condition they agree not to relocate their production anywhere else in the EU. If a farmer accepts a so-called voluntary buy-out, he or she may never farm in any other of the 27 EU member nations.

This move was ridiculed and denounced as a “crime against humanity,” by the Farmers Defense Force in the Netherlands on May 2. They are now geared up to prevent even one farm from being shut down.

The double-headed charge against the farmers is that their nitrogen emissions and ammonia run-off are allegedly warming the Earth, and otherwise their nearness to land preserves threatens biodiversity. The European Commission’s rationalization for shutting down meat production in the Netherlands, is to reduce nitrogen emissions, in particular from livestock operations near the land designated in 2000 as non-production preserves, called “Natura 2000,” which stretch across all the EU. The Dutch government of Mark Rutte says they want to cut Dutch nitrogen emissions 50% by 2030.

On May 2, European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager praised Rutte’s buy-out plans as, “schemes [which] will improve the environment conditions in those areas and will promote a more sustainable and environmentally friendly production in the livestock sector, without unduly distorting competition.”

The May 2 posting from the Dutch Farmers Defense Force, which is part of the new political formation which took control of the national Senate in the March elections (cf. SAS 12/23), revealed the EU Commission move:

“Fertile agricultural land may no longer be used for growing food or keeping livestock … at a time when climate change and war are severely limiting the global supply of food and the number of hungry people is exploding, Brussels and the Netherlands are going to sacrifice precious agricultural land. A crime against humanity!”

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