Climatic and soil conditions in North-Western Europe are excellently suited for dairy farming and an extensive market for dairy products is close at hand. As a result, dairying is an important economic sector in this region. The downside is that nutrient and greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy sector tend to be high owing to too low efficiencies in the use of fertilizers, feed, energy and water. These inefficiencies are hampering the delivery of key public services such as clean water, clean air and recreation facilities, all of which are being demanded by policy makers and by society. In addition to these environmental pressures, dairy farmers are also facing the financial crisis in the Euro zone, milk price volatility, high investment costs, and narrow profit margins. All this puts the sustainability of dairy farming in NW Europe under threat, both environmentally and economically.
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