All 21 Dutch water management authorities are appealing to the national government for an exemption for sheep who graze on dikes in a new manure policy.
By Jelte Stol / Translation by Traci White
Water management authorities (waterschappen) are local government agencies that oversee water conditions in their region. The authorities are worried that new rules would prevent sheep farmers from letting their flocks graze on the dikes. The agencies would be forced to pay more to maintain the land if the sheep are no longer allowed to graze there, which would present a hefty financial burden.
According to the Friesch Dagblad, the new rules would classify the grassy areas on the dikes as natural spaces rather than grazing grounds. The reclassification would mean that less sheep manure would be permitted on the dikes, making the area less attractive for the farmers to let their animals use the space.
The water management authorities are requesting the introduction of a new farmland category in the manure policy: grassland grazed by sheep. Adding the category would permit the sheep to continue grazing on the dikes.