Worldlog Week 26 – 2009

26 June 2009

Today I would like to give you a practical example of the way in which the Dutch government operates. I say this without sniping at the government but the Dutch minister of agriculture has asked Europe for millions to convince the Dutch public to consume even more dairy. Not because it benefits the consumer, but because the minister thinks it is good for the industry.

I wrote the following opinion piece on the matter that I would like to share with you:

Milk has had its’ day.

According to Minister Verburg, the Dutch consumer would benefit from consuming more dairy. For this reason this government representative is lobbying in Europe for a 4 million euro milk campaign, similar to the ‘chicken is the most multifaceted meat' that features the logline 'Your body is crying out for dairy'. The minister wants to support the struggling dairy industry that has a huge milk mountain to clear. 'It’s a world turned on its head,' says Marianne Thieme from the Party for the Animals. The industry wanted shot of the milk quota in order to be able to produce more which forced prices down. Consumers now have to drink the excess at the expense of their health and the taxpayer's dime.

45% of Dutch nationals suffer from obesity caused by consuming excessive animal proteins. The World Health Organisation (WHO) determined last year that if the European Union stimulates the dairy and meat industry it will lead to thousands of deaths a year.

Researchers in Wageningen and France concluded in April of this year that expanding the milk quota has caused the price of milk to drop drastically these past few months. Quite a few dairy farmers are now struggling with financial issues. This is a serious turn of events but the majority of the blame lies with the industry itself as they have repeatedly begged for increased milk production.

Minister of Agriculture Verburg pushed this increase past her European colleagues last, while other member states such as Germany had considerable objections. Partly due to intensive lobbying from farmer's organisation LTO and the dairy industry, she got her way anyway. The Party for the Animals is the only party in the lower house that has continuously raised objections to expanding milk production, as dairy farming is one of the most unsustainable industries in the Netherlands.

Research by the Centre for Agriculture and Environment has proved that one cow produces just as much greenhouse gasses in one year as a car that drives 70,000 kilometres.

The gasses and manure that cows are responsible for one third of the methane produced worldwide. Methane warms the earth twenty times faster than carbon dioxide. Cows are additionally responsible for one third of ammonia emissions. The diary industry is the number one cause for farmers to fell acres and acres of rainforest for cattle feed.

All the artificial fertiliser, antibiotics and hormones the cows are given wash away and end up in our drinking water supply, destroy coral reefs and the cause of enormous ocean ‘dead zones’ where no living thing resides. Then add a litre of milk that requires around 990 litres of water to produce and it should give you an idea about what we mean when we say it is an unsustainable industry.

I cannot believe that the cabinet in this time of crisis – climate crisis, food crisis, phosphate crisis, a fresh water crisis and financial crisis, wants to waste money on an industry that does nothing to help. There is currently no support for companies such as Econcern, and polluting business that are cruel to animals are being kept going by artificial means. European agriculture is bankrupt and needs to be replaced as quickly as possible by sustainable policy.

See you again next week!