The plan for smaller farms to save the Earth

Should we all be vegans? The Netherlands has made a plan to cut the number of animals
on its meat and dairy farms by a third

In the Netherlands, dairy farmers are breaking the law. A ruling by a big court in Europe in 2019 has left them in a legal limbo for years. The court found that the Dutch were breaking the law by releasing nitrogen pollution into the soil in protected areas.

The byproducts of animal farming are responsible for much of this pollution. To save these protected areas, officials plan to reduce the Netherlands’ 118
million farmed animals by 30% by 2030.

This plan sparked protests from farmers, who say they will not be able to make enough money to live. When the target was first announced in 2019, farmers protested with their tractors. And the protests have continued for three years.

It is the first plan of its kind, to reduce pollution by reducing the amount of food we make, rather than by making it more efficient. This has sparked talk of “peak meat”. The actions taken by the Dutch may be just the beginning of a decline in livestock farming.

Around the world, more meat and dairy are eaten than ever before — 20kg more per person than in 1961 — but many scientists say that if we are serious
about saving the planet, this will have to change.