Industrial farming to blame for manure polluting water, Greenpeace

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has ruled that Germany breached EU law by allowing manure runoff from farms to pollute water.


 The court found that Germany allowed an excessive use of manure as a fertiliser, in violation of the limits set out in the EU’s nitrates directive, which aims to reduce water pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: Manure doesn’t appear out of nowhere – industrial livestock farming is the clear culprit. We’re up to our necks in crap and the solution is not to stand on our tippy toes, but to drain the slurry. The manure problem isn’t only in Germany, a good start would be for the EU to stop funding the factory farms that pump it out.”

The ruling by the Court of Justice echoes warnings by scientific institutions and environmental authorities about the need to stop nitrate pollution from manure. Nitrate pollution of waterways can cause blooms of algae, which drain the water of oxygen, choking fish and other wildlife. Nitrates can also be converted into toxic nitrite in the human body, which is particularly dangerous for children and pregnant women. Researchers have estimated that nitrogen pollution costs the EU up to €320 billion every year.

Germany will now have to comply with the Court decision, or face a new infringement procedure from the European Commission. This infringement procedure could result in a second Court ruling imposing Germany to pay fines, if it is found to still be in breach of EU law.


Marco Contiero – Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director: +32 477 777034, [email protected]

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 2 274 1911, [email protected]

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