Environment rules to see 200,000 cows culled in the Netherlands
Close to 200,000 cows are to be culled over the coming months in the Netherlands in a desperate attempt by Dutch authorities to avoid losing their nitrates derogations.
The Irish Government will soon be seeking approval for the continued availability of the Nitrates Derogation to Irish farmers.
The Nitrates Directive has been in place since 1991. It aims to protect water quality from pollution by agricultural sources and to promote the use of good farming practice.
Similar to many intensive Irish dairy farms, the majority of Dutch livestock farmers have derogations to apply up to 250kg/ha of nitrogen per year, up from the standard annual limit of 170kg/ha.
However, this derogation has been jeopardised by the Dutch breaching their phosphate limits each year for the last three years.
Farmers had been banking on the introduction of a new quota system for phosphorus that would have allowed retiring farmers to sell their phosphorus allowance to those staying in the sector.
However, a ruling that this would contravene EU State aid rules has forced authorities to adopt a more drastic option of reducing national output by 13pc through a cull of the estimated 1.8m dairy herd.