intensive dairy farm

Despite serious warnings: cattle farming excluded from the Industrial Emissions Directive 

The European Parliament votes to exclude cattle farming from the scope of the law meant to regulate pollution, emptying the regulation from its substance. 


Strasbourg, 11th July - Today the European Parliament has voted to exclude cattle farming from the scope of the Industrial Emissions Directive and to maintain the insufficient threshold of livestock units for pigs and poultry in the current IED. 

This result marks an immense missed opportunity for the EU to act on its climate commitments and a huge regression in environmental protection. 

Following the extremely disappointing AGRI opinion vote on the IED in April, MEPs have expressed a similarly worrying conviction that industrial livestock farming pollution should not be regulated.  

Watering down the Industrial Emissions Directive’s scope by excluding the majority of emitters in the livestock farming sector has completely emptied the regulation from its substance. Especially as the livestock sector is responsible for 67% of EU ammonia emissions and more than 50% of EU methane emissions. Furthermore, the exclusion of cattle farming, which represents around 70% of agricultural methane, robs the IED from any potential impact for climate mitigation. 

What is particularly incomprehensible is that the Parliament voted in favour of lowering the obligations for the minority of big poultry and pig farms covered by the Directive, which confirms its lack of intention in addressing a highly polluting sector. If confirmed during trilogues, this would mean that the revision of the IED would signify less environmental protection and encourage the intensification of the sector. 

Both food security and the ability of farmers to earn their livelihoods depend on the EU’s success in climate mitigation and adaptation, but it seems the interests of the big industrial livestock lobby have priority over family farms. 

Miguel Ángel Zhan Dai, Climate Policy Officer at FOUR PAWS says, “The European Parliament has decided today to deliver one of the most disappointing and least ambitious initiatives of this term. It has decided to prioritize the interest of a few, the most polluting few, above the protection of biodiversity, animal welfare and public health. The EU will not meet its commitments under the EU Green Deal nor the Global Methane Pledge if it continues to give a free pass to a sector that is accountable for 53% of EU methane emissions and 67% of EU ammonia emissions. 

“The exclusion of cattle farming and the new simplified registration system exemplify the divergence between the European Parliament’s words and its actions.  

“Rather than taking the opportunity to stop giving a free pass to the industrial livestock farming, today the Parliament has chosen to solidify the exceptionalism of the agricultural sector”. 


Morgane Speeckaert

Morgane Speeckaert

EU Communications Coordinator

+39 331 365 4110

Rue Ducale 29, 1000 Brussels

FOUR PAWS - Animal Welfare ASBL

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in twelve countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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