Reduce Dutch livestock by half to lower nitrogen emissions: D66

Coalition party D66 wants to reduce the number of livestock in the Netherlands by half. This will reduce nitrogen emissions, and create more room to build new houses, D66 parliamentarian Tjeerd de Groot said to RTL Nieuws.

It's a simple calculation, according to De Groot. "70 percent of Dutch nitrogen emissions come from agriculture, a large part of which comes from intensive livestock farming. That is huge. At the same time, the contribution of intensive livestock farming to our own economy is not even 1 percent. The ratio is completely missing."

The D66 therefore wants to give farmers a choice, with financial support from the government. Farmers can either stop livestock farming, or switch to cycle farming - in which animals only eat food that humans do not eat and would be discarded. That reduces the burden on the earth, and means that the farmer is no longer reliant on animal feed and fertilizer from abroad. This automatically leads to fewer animals, according to the MP. 

Reducing nitrogen emissions is high on the government's agenda, since the Council of State declared the so-called Nitrogen Approach Program invalid. The program made it possible to build near nature reserves, on the condition that there would be a restoration of nature in the future. But the Council of State ruled that the program is in violation of European rules. It is therefore no longer possible to build in the vicinity of protected nature areas, which means that thousands of building projects have come to a standstill, including the construction of houses and roads.

"Politicians now have to make a choice. Young people want a house but cannot find it. Housing construction is in danger of falling due to the nitrogen problem. The construction of roads and public transport are also at risk. And the damage nitrogen does to nature is much too big", De Groot said to the broadcaster. "It is time for responsibility to be taken. There is no future for the bio-industry: The Netherlands is a postage stamp were far too many chickens, pigs and goats are kept."

Reducing livestock is a sensitive issue for coalition partners VVD and ChristenUnie, and completely not an option for CDA, which has a large number of farmers among its supporters. When the Council for the Living Environment and Infrastructure made a similar proposal last year, in order to achieve the climate goals set in the Paris agreement, all three parties rejected it, according to RTL.