New EU environmental rules could see dairy farmers in Holland have to reduce the numbers of cows on their farms significantly.

According to Eamon Farrell, Agri Food Policy Executive of ICOS, it is estimated that Dutch dairy farmers will have to cull between 60,000 to 100,000 cows in order to comply with EU phosphates limits.

He says phosphate production in 2015 was 176.3m kg, which is 3.4m kg above the Dutch derogation under EU legislation.

The new rules are enforceable from January 1, 2017 and Farrell says Dutch dairy farmers will be issued with phosphate rights, based on the number of cows in July 2015.

"Farmers will be allowed to trade these rights, with extra allowances available to extensive, pasture based farms," he said.


In volume terms, Farrell highlights that Holland produced the greatest amount of extra milk in the EU in 2015.

Last year, Dutch milk production increased by 6.8%, equivalent to an additional 850,000t of milk.

There are 18,000 dairy farmers in Holland with 1.6m dairy cows, producing 12.5m tonnes on an annual basis.

"An extremely mild winter over the months of November and December created processing capacity concerns for Friesland Campina, who responded with a temporary supply initiative in January. In fact, milk supply in the latter months of 2015 exceeded their traditional Spring peak."

According to Farrell in 2016, it is projected that Holland will continue to increase production (+520,000t) but at a lower level than 2015 due to the environmental concerns over phosphates.