For Farmers, Against Intensive Cattlefarming

Opinion piece by Tyler Rozema, chairman Northern Netherlands branch 2019.

Today, thousands of farmers have protested in The Hague. They are angry because they are often appointed as major environmental polluters. Multiple parties, like the Party for the Animals and GreenLeft, have been addressing this for a long time, and D66 joining our side with Tjeerd de Groot’s words seems to have been the drop that spilled the bucket for many farmers in the Netherlands.

PINK! respects this protest. Everyone has the right to protest, and that includes these farmers. We want to take a moment to explain our vision: We are against intensive (cattle)farming, but not against farmers.

The fact is that the bio industry and the production of animal products is the most polluting factor in the world. Science has proven this multiple times, it can’t be denied. Shrinking the livestock and transitioning to a plant-based diet are essential steps in fighting the climate crisis and keeping our planet inhabitable.

Of course we don’t want the farmers to be left alone, however. Of course we don’t want farmers to be forced to give up their source of income, and then just leave them to figure things out for themselves. Farmers are largely victims of the current system.

The price for animal products like meat and dairy is absurdly low. The competition from dirt cheap producers from abroad in combination with supermarkets squeezing the industry dry forces Dutch farmers to make their livestock as large and not animal friendly as possible in order to stay afloat.

PINK! wants to transition to an agricultural system where this is not necessary. We want to transition to a system where farmers get a fair price for the products they deliver. We want to put an end to the foreign import of animal products and products designated for cattle breeding. We want to stop using government grants to keep the price of animal products artificially low, and instead we want to use them to support farmers in the transition to a sustainable form of agriculture where they can also earn a fair wage for their labour and products.

We do not agree with the current agricultural system, and we want to work on solutions where the wellbeing of animals and the planet is always guaranteed. But of course we don’t want the farmers to be snowed under. In a sustainable system, their contribution to the food supply is still essential. The system must change, but in this new system we need farmers too. Farmers that have the space to do their work in such a way that animals have the space to show their natural behaviour, and the planet remains inhabitable.

We just hope that farmers would like to be a part of this new system too.