Second-Generation Dairy Farmer Forced to Cull 95% of Herd Over Environmental Regulations


As leaders in the Netherlands propose progressive new climate actions to dial back emissions, many farmers face the possibility of having to kill livestock or close their businesses altogether.

One of those farmers is Martin Neppelenbroek, who told The Epoch Times he would have to cull 95 percent of his herd under the new regulations.

“I can’t run a farm on 5 percent,” Neppelenbroek said. “For me, it’s over and done with.”

The Netherlands’ government said nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions “must be drastically reduced close to nature areas that are part of a network of protected habitats for endangered plants and wildlife stretching across the 27-nation European Union,” ABC News reported.

Specifically, they want to reduce emissions of these two pollutants by 50 percent across the country by the year 2030.

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Since livestock emit ammonia through their excrement, Dutch farmers have been particularly targeted with new climate proposals.

“The honest message … is that not all farmers can continue their business,” the Dutch government said in a June statement according to ABC.

Neppelenbroek said messages like this, along with regulations to meet the emissions goal, make selling his farm impossible.

“In view of the regulations, I can’t sell it to anybody,” he said, the Times reported. “Nobody wants to buy it. [But] the government wants to buy it. And that’s why they [have] those regulations, I think.”

Should the Dutch government reconsider its plans?

Farmers across the Netherlands have been gathering in organized protests against the climate proposals, Fox News reported.

“I really understand their anger,” Climate Intelligence Foundation co-founder Marcel Crok said.

“The farmers are also angry because they say, ‘We are the only sector who get all the blame.’

“What about industry? What about the traffic? Maybe we should just ban all the cars in the Netherlands because they also emit [nitrogen].”

Crok also said the Netherlands’ government is correct in its assessment that the regulations would force some farmers out of jobs.

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“This plan in practice means that, in certain areas, farmers have to reduce their nitrogen emissions by 70 percent,” Crok said. “That means they simply have to quit.”

For many Dutch farmers, their jobs are family affairs. Neppelenbroek, for example, said his approximately 70-acre farm has been in the family for 50 years.

He currently owns 130 milking cows, the Times reported, but the fate of these animals remains in questions under the new government proposals.

Yet while the Dutch government seems confident targeting farmers will help the country reach its climate goals, Dutch journalist Simon Rozendaal told Fox News he is not so sure.

“It is not very rational to curb the Dutch agriculture if you realize that they have the highest production per acre in the world and therefore the environmental load per kilogram food is lower than elsewhere,” Rozendaal said.

“So, in a sense Dutch agriculture is a benefit for climate, as well as biodiversity.”

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Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.
Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.