EU Countries Seek to Weaken Livestock Emission Limits

    EU Countries Seek to Weaken Livestock Emission Limits
    Last updated Mar 17, 2023
    Image credit: Kate Abnett/Reuters


    • Member states of the European Union agreed on Thursday to attempt to curb the number of farms covered by proposed rules to slash pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, despite criticism from some countries.[1]
    • The EU has failed to significantly reduce the methane emissions produced by livestock for more than a decade. EU member states and the European Parliament plan to negotiate more stringent limits on farms and factories for waste disposal and other polluting gases like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.[1]
    • Last year, the European Commission proposed that all cattle, pig, and poultry farms with over 150 livestock units should face new limits on their emissions — around 184K of Europe's largest farms. Cattle would be included in this first-time regulation and it would increase the number of poultry and pig farms covered by the directive from the present 20K.[2]
    • On Thursday, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, and Poland pressed for fewer farms in the Commission proposal, stating it was unrealistic and burdensome for farmers. At the same time, environment ministers said cattle and pig farms should only be covered if they have at least 350 livestock units and 280 livestock units for poultry farms — more than doubling the Commission's threshold.[1]
    • Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands aligned themselves with the position but were disappointed at the weakening. Finland’s State Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Terhi Lehtonen, said that EU countries have “significantly reduced their enthusiasm for the environment and their potential pollutant emissions.”[3]
    • If the Commission's proposal is adopted, it will ensure that farms responsible for 60% of EU ammonia emissions and 43% of methane emissions are covered by new limits.[2]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The EU's Industrial Emissions Directive aims at reducing pollution from cattle, pigs, and poultry factory farms and is essential to tackling the climate and biodiversity crises. Requiring these giants of industrial livestock farming to obtain a pollution permit would be a step toward more sustainable food systems.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Curbing nitrogen emissions on farms by limiting the use of nitrogen fertilizers and slashing livestock numbers will put 5K jobs at risk in agriculture and 15K indirect jobs. This nitrogen plan, which follows EU legislation, will create a socio-economic bloodbath. The proposed cuts will put many farmers out of business. That is why farmers need to protest this proposed legislation before it's too late.

    Establishment split



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