The Netherlands, a country half the size of the state of Maine with over 16 million people, is home to a pig population of 14 million. To put this in perspective, the U.S. has approximately a population of 65 million pigs in a country with 300 million people. The New York Times reports about the space and environmental challenges the Netherlands is facing, being Europe's leading pork producer.
"Like pork producers everywhere, Dutch farmers are fighting rising costs by resorting to ever bigger herds and barns, a trend that is reinforced by the petite size of the Netherlands. In recent years, an architectural firm in Rotterdam even proposed skyscrapers for pigs, high-rise barns capable of taking in thousands of animals in very small space. They would even come with balconies so that the hogs could occasionally enjoy fresh air, unlike the pigs in most Dutch barns, which spend their lives indoors."
Wyno Zwanenburg, President of the Dutch Pig Farmers Union says " Farmers have no choice but to expand, noting that since 1990, the number of Dutch pig farmers has steadily declined from about 28,000 and is expected to reach about 2,000 in the next few years.
“We’re facing a global challenge,” he said. “And in this emotional discussion, there is some criticism that bigger is always worse than smaller.” To which I say, if people say there is no other choice than getting bigger, we're having a major problem.