31 March 2000

Dutch paid to cut back pig numbers

By Philip Clarke

DUTCH livestock producers are to be paid 190 guilders (£53) a pig in order to cut production, to reduce pollution.

Earlier this month the EU announced it was taking the Netherlands to the European Court in Luxembourg for its insufficient controls in this area.

The new scheme – one of a range of measures designed to tackle the problem – will pay out 670m guilders (£186m) over the next three years for farmers to surrender their manure quotas, allocated in the late 1980s.

The first tranche, which is open for applications until April 20, is offering 100m guilders (£28m) on a "first come, first served" basis, with payment at 36.5 guilders/kg of phosphate.

That is equivalent to 190 guilders (£53) for each finished animal, although pig breeders will receive more, reflecting the higher level of emissions with sows.

Producers quitting production altogether will also qualify for a grant worth 50 guilders/sq m (£14/sq m) for demolishing pig buildings.

"The aim is to get a total of 21.5m kg of phosphate out of the system in the next three years," explains Marten van Driel of LTO, the main farming union in the Netherlands.

This would be enough to clear the countrys estimated surplus, before a new system, limiting the amount of manure a farmer can produce per hectare of land owned, kicks in from 2002.

The latest scheme is already proving popular, with over 2000 requests for application forms in the first few days. Most interest is from pig farmers, who could take out over 4m finishers under the scheme, equivalent to 30% of the national pig herd.

But even if this is achieved over the next three years, Mr van Driel did not believe it would have a lasting impact on the market. &#42