Stricter EU rules in livestock farming; no ban on mega stables

EP Plenary session - Keep the bills down: social and economic consequences of the war in Ukraine

The European Parliament must require large pig farms and poultry farms to pollute less air, soil and water. There will be stricter standards, just like for major industries. A EU decision on dairy farming will be made in 2026. Then again, agriculture and livestock farming will be decoupled from the industrial pollution scheme.

The aim of the agreements is to limit environmental damage caused by industrial emissions. It has now been agreed that livestock farms with more than 700 pigs, more than 22,000 laying hens or more than 40,000 broilers must comply with European rules.

In the Netherlands, greenhouse gas emissions decreased slightly last year, but increased in agriculture. Agriculture in the Netherlands contributes approximately 17% to total greenhouse gas emissions (excluding land use); industry 32% The main cause of increased agricultural emissions comes from the cogeneration plants in greenhouse horticulture based on natural gas.

The strictest achievable emission levels are set for industry. From now on, the most effective techniques must be used. The new regulation will also apply to mines and large factories that make batteries. To combat a water shortage, environmental permits also require criteria for water consumption. 

The whole process surrounding the new rules will become more open to the public. There will be a public register for the emissions and transport of pollutants. There, citizens can gain access to all permits and local polluting activities.

Companies and livestock farmers that do not comply with the rules can be fined a minimum of three percent of their annual EU turnover. Citizens should also have the right to claim compensation for damage to their health. Here too, the principle is that the polluter ultimately pays. 

MEP Mohammed Chahim (PvdA, S&D) says that with this scheme an important part of the Green Deal has been adopted. According to him, this not only benefits the environment, but also benefits public health.

Anja Hazekamp (PvdD) thinks this is a disappointing arrangement. “The new European rules contain only slight improvements compared to the current law. Mouse steps are not enough to really tackle major polluters such as the livestock industry and Tata Steel. Parliament rejected her proposal for a total ban on the construction of new mega-stables.