The net environmental costs in the agricultural sector amounted to around 6% of the gross production value in the period 2003-2007. In a time when the costs of both environmental protection and matters such as animal welfare will probably increase further, the agricultural sector ought to be earning more rather than less by complying with these requirements, which usually demand investments and changes in farming practices on the part of the farmer. Research shows that only 34% of pig farms are currently in a position to invest in environmental protection and animal welfare so as to comply with future legislation in these areas.
There is a silver lining to be found in the expectation that food prices will increase. However, whether or not this will be to farmers’ advantage will depend to a great extent on the developments in important cost items such as energy and animal feed.