Zuhal Demir gets the green light from Europe for the voluntary pig farmers’ buyout scheme

9 March 2023
Zuhal Demir

Flemish Minister of the Environment Zuhal Demir has developed a voluntary cessation scheme for pig farms in order to achieve an overall reduction of the pig stock and a decrease in ammonia emissions by 2030. The European Commission announced today that it has given the green light for the organisation of an appeal whereby pig farms with the highest nitrogen impact on nature can shut down their pig farms prematurely and voluntarily. Demir will submit the file to the Flemish Government for approval as soon as possible. “This long-awaited decision is a blessing for these farmers and an excellent opportunity to reduce nitrogen emissions in a voluntary way,” says Demir.

Pig farms with an impact score higher than 0.5% are eligible for this scheme. It is part of a total package of measures to reduce nitrogen emissions in Flanders drastically and thus meet our environmental targets and avoid a permit stop. Those measures are described in the draft “Programmatorische Aanpak Stikstof” (PAS; Programmatic Approach to Nitrogen), on which the Flemish government reached an agreement on 23 February 2022.

30% fewer pigs

One of the goals is to reduce the number of pigs by 30% by 2030 and to significantly reduce ammonia emissions in Flanders through an appeal for cessation. Compensation is also provided for the closure of pig farms with the highest impact.

Excessive foreign dependence

The European Commission has today announced that it has given the green light for the cessation scheme and for the organisation of an appeal. Demir will submit the file to the Flemish Council of Ministers as soon as possible. “The pig sector has been going from crisis to crisis for years, all the more so because we produce far more than we consume ourselves, and we are therefore highly dependent on the foreign market. This next step in the implementation of the Crocus Agreement means that we can offer pig farmers voluntary cessation and thus help a large number of them, while at the same time further reducing the pig stock and decreasing ammonia emissions,” Zuhal Demir says.

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