The tough environmental controls planned by the Dutch government are designed to prevent nitrates reaching the water table. Holland is following the Danes in linking the level of a farmer's livestock production to the amount of land he has to dispose of manure and slurry. The new legislation will come into force in 2002, by which time all pig farmers will be required to hold a contract for a set area of land per head of livestock on the farm. The exact surface area required will reflect the soil type and expected nitrogen loading of the livestock holding. The 1997 swine fever epidemic wiped out 10 million pigs but the country has almost recovered its pre-swine fever 13 million national herd. In the wake of the 1997 epidemic, the Dutch government tried and failed to impose pig quotas, losing a critical test case. While farmers concede that livestock numbers will have to be reduced, pig producers are fighting for the most favourable starting point to negotiate cuts and possible compensation for reducing output or leaving the industry. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}

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