Since the start of the nitrogen crisis in 2018, more Dutch livestock farmers moved to Belgium than in previous years. This is evident from new research by Spit and Apache. Environmental organisations have been warning for some time that Belgium has become a 'nitrogen paradise' for large-scale polluters. An inventory of the available data supports this fear.

Spit and Apache analysed 969 permit applications from large-scale Dutch pig and poultry farmers and made an inventory of the publicly available business documents of 1,494 cattle farmers in the border region - including the very intensively cultivated Noorderkempen region.

Since 2010, there has been a clear increase in the annual number of people moving catlle farmers.In the past five years, the number of new farms has even doubled compared to the previous five years. 

Due to a lack of publicly available data, there are probably many more Dutch companies in Belgium that remain under the radar. Moreover, there are also 'hidden' forms of farm migration. When a Belgian company is taken over by a Dutchman, it is not always necessary to apply for a new permit, so the change in ownership may go unnoticed. It is also not visible when a Dutchman rents a location in Belgium and hires personnel to manage the stables.

Photo credit: Stef Arends

Team members

Steven Vanden Bussche

Steven Vanden Bussche (1979) is an investigative journalist at Apache.

Stef Arends

Stef Arends is a Dutch freelance (video)journalist based in Belgium.

Hester den Boer

Hester den Boer is an independent investigative journalist and photographer. 

Parcival Weijnen

Parcival Weijnen is a freelance investigative journalist and co-founder of Investigative Collective Spit.

A grant of €10,174 was allocated on 10/11/2020


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