Representatives: The structure of livestock raising must be reformed to prevent animal diseases

Representatives: The structure of livestock raising must be reformed to prevent animal diseases

The House of Representatives expresses its deep concern about the outbreak of animal diseases and the possibility of these diseases being transmitted to humans. This became clear during the discussion that took place on the evening of Thursday, June 13. Some parties consider the structure of livestock farming to be dangerous. Other parties are calling for measures such as mandatory vaccination of livestock.

They point out that the discovery of bird flu in humans in the United States, Australia and Mexico has raised concerns among representatives. An outbreak of bird flu infection among dairy cattle in the United States and recent outbreaks of bluetongue and Q fever in the Netherlands are also worrying politicians.

“As a livestock-intensive country, we are a hotbed of animal diseases. Many experts have already said that. We just have to wait for something to happen,” Laura Brummett (GroenLinks-PvdA) summarizes the concerns of various MPs.

The tone of the discussion is very alarming for Cor Béric (BBB). “I have the impression that people are more afraid of zoonoses caused by livestock farming than they are of other zoonoses.”

In this context, it refers to the infectious disease toxoplasmosis, which is spread by cats. “With farm animals, contact between people and animals is less intense than with pets, so the risk of contamination with zoonotic diseases is lower.” Lyme disease is also transmitted by tick bites, which causes thousands of people to become ill each year.

Control of zoonotic diseases

However, it is precisely the relative density of livestock that worries MPs, leading them to call for structural change in the sector. For example, Harm Holman (NSC) refers to international livestock transportation operations. “All problems start with transporting livestock and manure.” Holman calls for reducing transportation movements in the livestock sector, and praises the veal sector for taking steps in this regard.

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D66 and NSC believe that expansion or new construction of poultry farms in wetland areas is unwise in light of the spread of avian influenza by migratory birds. The Party for the Animals (PvdD) considers the expansion or arrival of new goat farms undesirable to combat the risk of the spread of Q fever.

Mandatory vaccination

The VVD, D66 and SP, among others, call for mandatory vaccination against bluetongue in sheep and cattle and against avian influenza in poultry. Outgoing Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Pete Adema, has stated that mandatory vaccination against bluetongue is not necessary. “Willingness for vaccination is high. Livestock farmers look at the costs and benefits of vaccination and draw their own conclusions. Everyone does it.

He says this is different from bird flu. In the case of voluntary vaccination against bird flu, our country is considered the country in which the vaccination takes place. Then you can expect other countries to take trade action. This makes it complicated. We must take the necessary measures so that trade does not stop. If this happens, there will be a great willingness to be vaccinated.

Adema also points out that a lot of efforts are being made in the Netherlands to prevent the spread of animal diseases. For this purpose, there is a plan to intensify the prevention of bird flu and vaccines that can be used prophylactically against bird flu and bluetongue.

Structural changes in livestock farming and a possible ban on the construction or expansion of wetland areas are believed to be up to the next government. We are currently examining what consequences this may have on this sector and what legislative changes are required.

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Pandemic preparedness

Outgoing Medicare Minister Pia Dijkstra finds it alarming that people are becoming infected with bird flu in the United States, but also states that the public health risk is low. Something Adema reported previously. Dijkstra confirms that the government has made preparations in the event of an outbreak of the disease among people.

Some representatives also expressed their concern about the new government’s plans. This aims to reduce 300 million euros in pandemic preparedness. Dijkstra leaves those cuts to the next cabinet. She believes such a reduction would have consequences for GGD and disease monitoring. “The result may be that we are less prepared for new outbreaks.”

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