Rutger Bregman and pig farming chairman collide at Op1

Did you give your dog an extra pat yesterday, or gave your cat that tasty food that is just a bit more expensive? Good thing, because it was animal day (and don’t eat animal day). Talk shows also talked a lot about animals, such as in On 1. Writer and historian Rutger Bregman took a seat there. He sat (literally and figuratively) opposite Linda Verriet, president of the Producers Organization Pig Farming. And the two got into a fight.

In addition to Animal Day, yesterday was also the 25th anniversary of Pigs in Need, so the organization called for an end to factory farming in the Netherlands in various newspapers. According to the organization, the switch to organic livestock farming would rather happen today than tomorrow. But is that possible?

Clash in Op1 over factory farming

Rutger Bregman – author of, among other things, the books Most People Are Good and Free Money For Everyone – believes that we should go back to farms how they are described in children’s books. “There you see pigs with curly tails rooting in the mud, chickens that have a lot of space. But the reality of factory farming is very different,” Bregman begins. “If we look at pigs, we see that 99 percent of the pigs never come out. 99 percent of the pigs do have those happy curly tails, but they are burned off.” Farmers do this, says Bregman, because otherwise the animals will bite each other in the tail, because they are so close to each other.

Bregman also thinks that more and more people feel that factory farming is ‘not okay’ and that things have to change. “We want to propagate a sound that fewer and fewer Dutch people find normal. A recent study by Kieskompas shows that 60 percent of the Dutch want a ban on factory farming, although I think a ban itself goes a long way.” According to the writer, the three stars of the Animal Protection meet the guidelines that he and the organization have.

‘I only hear frames, like mega stalls’

A little later in the broadcast it is about farmers, and that they are also having a hard time. Bregman: „If you ask yourself: ‘Why are there fewer farmers in the Netherlands every year?’ Then the answer isn’t that there’s some angry vegan club chasing them out of the country. No, it is the increase in scale, that intensification.” And then the author cites some examples. “A lot of farmers can no longer keep up with that increase in scale, those mega stables. We now have 999 mega stalls in the Netherlands.” But Verriet doesn’t like that kind of language.

“I really only hear frames all the time,” she begins. “Mega stables, misery, I find that really annoying. We really just keep our animals in a very good way. The whole world comes here to see how we keep our animals and it is suggested here that we are only dealing with scaling up.” Bregman interrupts her and says it’s true that there are fewer farmers every year. “They can’t compete in that enormous competition,” he says. “I would prefer there to be more farmers, who all work on a smaller scale.”

Then Verriet also touches on the aforementioned research, which shows that more than half of the Netherlands wants a ban on factory farming. “I think that’s a study from 2021, the researchers were all vegans, I’m allowed to do that,” she says. Bregman, shaking his head, “No, it’s Electoral Compass.” Verriet: “It doesn’t matter, but I am very curious about the population of respondents.” She mentions her own research, done by an independent marketing agency, which showed that 95 percent of the Dutch eat meat and plan to continue to do so. “5 percent is not, and that is allowed. And why do those others eat meat? Because it is tasty and healthy.”

‘Mr Bregman doesn’t want pigs to eat meat anyway’

Verriet again addresses Bregman: “I am not at all against organic. I also represent the organic pig farmers here. But we see that market share just isn’t growing.” She wants to continue her story, but Bregman interrupts her. „Do you think it is normal that-“, he does not get any further, because Verriet indicates that she also wants to ‘finish her story’. She also says that pig farmers can impose something on people, but people ultimately make their own choice.

Bregman continues his earlier question: “Do you think it is normal that 99 percent of the pigs in the Netherlands never go outside? Do you think it’s normal for 99 percent of pigs to have curly tails that get burned? Is it normal that all those pigs live on concrete, that they don’t have access to a mud puddle, that they can’t behave naturally?” Verriet: “Mr. Bregman does not want us to keep pigs in order to eat meat at all. We will never agree on that, animal welfare will never be enough for Mr. Bregman, because Mr. Bregman does not want pigs to eat meat anyway.”

On 1-presenter Giovanca Ostiana jumps in between: “What would you like to say to him?” Verriet: “Let everyone make their own choice. I grant that to all Dutch people. Make a conscious choice, but come and see how we keep the animals at pig farmers and have a conversation.” On 1-presenter Tijs Brinkman to Bregman: “And what do you say?” “I think it is important that people know how pigs, but also chickens and cows, are really kept. That we are often still telling ourselves a myth.”

You can watch Op1 via NPO Start.

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Rutger Bregman and pig farming chairman collide with Op1: ‘Just frames’

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