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Dutch minister calls for sustainable farming

Dutch Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg has ambitious plans for the sector. She said that livestock farming in the Netherlands must become more sustainable by 2023.

"In the coming 15 years, the animal production sector needs to cut down on ammonia and dust emission," said Verburg. This can be done by introducing a new type of housing for example. The Minster also wants a stronger focus on animal health, access to light and improved living and transport conditions.

The bulk of materials for animal feeds should come from Europe to minimise feed product imports and to help ensure sustainability standards, the ministry said.

According to Verburg, the Dutch livestock sector is on an important crossroads. The period after the Second World War was focused on increased production, resulting in environmental problems and animal diseases in the 80s and 90s. "Now is the time," Verburg said, "to focus on quality instead of quantity".

The Minster will discuss her visions this year with farmers, suppliers, processing industry, the supermarkets and social organisations. To make the changes happen, she wants to use different tools such as subsidies, taxes and education.

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