THE NEXT THREAT to Europe’s milk and meat mountain may be manure.
With most cattle, sheep and pigs raised in intensive automatic feeding sheds, the manure produced per hectare is immense.
Traditionally it has been spread on paddocks, leaving some of rural areas of The Netherlands with paddocks now two metres above roads.
The Netherlands, barely the size of Victoria, produces more grain, milk, flowers — and manure — than the Australian state.
So the European Union, concerned about the manure mountain and its impact on air and water quality, has ordered Dutch farmers to move or kill at least 200,000 dairy cows. And that’s just the first cut.
The EU says the farmers need to reduce their herds by half a million cows — a third of the Dutch milking herd.
Given that here is the fourth biggest dairy producer in a Europe — and the most efficient — Dutch farmers aren’t happy. This looks like being a major issue at the forthcoming Dutch election.
However, Dutch farmers would be compensated by between $3,000 and $6,000 per cow, plus around $20,000 per cow per year, for the lost income for the estimated life of the cow.
That’d make a forced reduction probably a highly profitable exercise.
And once the EU has dealt with cows, their next targets are intensive beef and pork producers.
Given the impact on global milk, processed beef and pork (mainly packaged ham and bacon) markets by subsidised European production, the EU’s manure mountain action may have positive impacts on global prices — and for Australian producers.