The Dutch government is discussing proposals to limit the number of cows per hectare to 2.5 to 3 cows per hectare according to leaked information from the Agricultural Accord (Landbouwakkord). The news has divided opinions with farmers voicing concern on the practicality of lower density stocking.

The government are in the midst of reducing nitrogen usage and carbon emissions and are already looking to purchase livestock farms to stop them producing.

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Bart Kemp, chairman of agricultural interest group Agractie, told Dutch newspaper AD,: “We are firmly against [the measure]. And I cannot imagine that [other agricultural interest groups] can agree to this.”

stated Henk Bleker, chairman of dairy farmers’ interest group Nederlandse Melkveehouders Vakbond (NMV) says that one if five dairies would be hit by the limit.

Besides the proposed cow limit, the accord also foresees the creation of a new unified sustainability standard to which all farmers will need to adhere, RTL Nieuws reported.

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There are also moves for farmers to be paid to create forests or grazing land management as well as efforts to preserve meadow birds.

Agriculture Minister Piet Adema (ChristenUnie/EPP) hopes that an intermediate agreement can be reached during negotiations between the ministry and farmers’ representatives. However the most recent round of talks last week ended in stalemate with the next round scheduled for June.

Last year farmers in the Netherland took to the street and motorways to protest strict new environmental proposals for agriculture. Subsequently the Dutch Farmer/Citizen movement political party (BBB or BoerBurgerBeweging) reported a strong showing in spring elections.