Industrial farming in the Netherlands

Dutch pig farming practices posit urgent questions concerning animal subjectivity, animal welfare, environmental problems and precarious human and animal living and working conditions. The widespread of industrial farming as the dominant model of ‘modern’ farming shapes specific ways in which animals are made to live and die, and the forms of care (or careless) practices they are endowed to.

The project has to work packages. WP 1 focuses on metabolic politics in pig farming. WP 2 focuses on the metabolic politics of nitrogen.

In WP1 we envision a political and societal investigation of the environmental effects of pig farming is in the Netherlands. We focus on the  transformation of a historical metabolic logic of the pig as a commensal associate, into a current industrial circular logic. All the while recognizing how the metabolism and vitality of the pig is made into a mediating locus for the supposed environmental harms of industrial pig farming. 

In the second part of the project, WP2, we focus on the metabolic politics of nitrogen. The Netherlands has a long history of issues related to nitrogen overloads. In 2019, the excess of nitrogen has led to a ‘nitrogen crisis’, halting construction works, reducing speed limits on highways, and proposing farmer buyouts and structural limitations of intensive livestock farming. Currently, the Dutch national government initiated an intergovernmental process to more thoroughly look for solutions to move out of the impasse, led by ex-Minister of Internal Affairs Johan Remkes and resulting in four reports that largely shape the impending transition. In this project, we explore the politics of Remkes’ problem definitions and how it shapes which solutions are considered acceptable, realistic and effective. An initial analyses highlights how the committee’s definition of the problem leads to a problematic focus on protected natural areas and balancing nitrogen emissions, which problematically places extractivist modes-of-farming outside of nitrogen transitions.

Runtime: December 2022 – December 2023
Partners: Clemens Driessen, Wageningen University