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Dutch activists target large 'pig housing blocks'

Environmentalist activists have launched a campaign in the Netherlands to prevent cooperating farms to build mega-farms, called 'pig housing blocks.'

The group Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth) collected reports of initiatives for large pig and poultry house building plans in the Netherlands at its website.


The organisation counted pig houses for 5,000 animals or more and chicken houses for 250,000 animals or more. More than 50 building plans have been received up until now - the organisation fears building them will create a lot of damage and nuisance to the countryside.


Questions
A number of Dutch MPs have asked questions about the list in Parliament.


Left-wing newspaper De Volkskrant emphasises that a maze in a recent law allows large farm building initiatives.


The law, put in place after the Classical Swine Fever outbreak in 1997 and 1998, aimed to relocate the livestock industry to less ecologically vulnerable areas.


Expansion
The law allowed large pig producing companies to move to regions, that were especially appointed for expansion intensive livestock industry.


The activists claim now that state or provincial control is lacking into the size of the new farms.


Scale increases
Annechien ten Have, chairwoman of the animal livestock industry in the Dutch Agri- and Horticultural Organisation (LTO), however, says that scale increases in every sector in economy, so also in agriculture and livestock industry.


"Together we agreed that pig farms close to nature or towns will be relocated to areas where there is space for expansion. We are not talking about an expansion of the total number of pigs, but about a relocation."


Same rules
The Dutch researcher Huib Silvis from Wageningen University's Agricultural Economical Institute (LEI) added that mega farms have to comply with the same rules as small ones.


"Some environmental goals might even be met cheaper on large farms."


Related news item:
• Plans for 'pig flat blocks' worry Dutch villagers (30 May 2007)


Related websites:
• Dutch Agri- and Horticultural Organisation (LTO)
• De Volkskrant
• Milieudefensie
• Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR)
• Landbouw Economisch Instituut (LEI)


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