2,100 Dairy Farmers Defraud Dutch Government

Farmers in Holland falsified records of calf births to evade reporting environmental pollutants.


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The Dutch Department of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality found that 2,100 dairy farmers in the country falsified records to avoid emissions reporting. The Dutch government implemented a phosphate reduction plan that requires farmers to report certain data about the cow herds they use for milk production. Phosphate accumulation is considered “nutrient pollution” that can create dangerous algal blooms that disrupt aquatic ecosystems. Under Dutch law, a cow that is used for dairy production must be registered as one livestock unit (LU), while a heifer (a female cow that has not borne a calf) is registered as 0.5 LU—as she has less of an environmental impact. In January, Dutch authorities noticed that farmers were reporting a conspicuously high percentage of twin and triplet calves. This false reporting would allow farmers to attribute multiple calf births to one cow and keep other cows in the 0.5 LU heifer category—even if she had given birth to a calf. The Dutch government has placed a hold on the 2,100 farms identified in the scandal, barring them from selling calves into the veal industry until each animal can be properly classified.