‘Dutch government subsidises mega-stables’

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

The Dutch government is accused of having subsidised the construction of mega-stables in other countries for years.

A new report published by Dutch animal rights campaign group Wakker Dier (literally: Alert Animal) - entitled The Mega-Stable as Export Product - says the subsidies mainly come from the Netherlands' development cooperation budget.

Wakker Dier cites the example of a 750,000-euro contribution to fund the expansion of a company called Omsky Bacon from 250,000 to 500,000 pigs. The company is part of the business empire of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

The Netherlands’ biggest pig farming operation, Van Genugten, received 700,000 euros from the development cooperation budget to build a mega-stable in Bosnia. It will be used to house piglets imported from the Netherlands, yet the Dutch government has explicitly stated that it wants to ban long-distance animal transports to prevent suffering and the risk of spreading disease.

The ministries of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and Foreign Affairs say the subsidy granted to Van Genugten is the only one that has come from the development cooperation budget. A spokesperson explained:

In the case of Van Genugten, it is about setting up a stable for pigs for meat production to replace the import of pigs to Bosnia from the EU. Research shows this will not disrupt the market for the smaller farmers.”

The Dutch agricultural industry is trying to sell its products in countries where intensive industrial farming is on the rise. The sector has many years of experience in large-scale factory farming. Dutch companies are involved in many high-intensity livestock projects in other parts of the world. The government supports the agricultural industry and promotes its exports. Wakker Dier says the Netherlands spends tens of millions of euros a year on subsidies to the sector.

Dutch taxpayers are partly footing the bill for the construction of mega-stables in foreign countries where animal welfare is not considered as important as in the Netherlands, Wakker Dier says.

(gsh/imm)

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide