Concerns have been raised about an experimental floating farm in Rotterdam harbour after two cows fell into the water. The dairy and stable on a floating platform opened in 2019 and gained international attention as the world’s first ‘floating farm’.
Now, the project has been labelled as "madness" when a second animal had to be rescued from the water after it apparently fell in while crossing to a small patch of grass on the dockside.
The local Party for the Animals (PvdD), which has long opposed the project, also called it "a sorry sight".
Ruud van der Velden, a councillor and head of the local branch of the PvdD, told The Telegraph he was concerned about animal welfare.
“It is dangerous when cows leave the pontoon for the gangway to go to the waterside and this is the second time that a cow has ended up in the water,” he said. “A cow doesn’t belong on the water and intensive dairy farming isn’t right either. It’s a sorry sight to see.”
Last week the party put forward (and lost) a motion to Rotterdam City Council to withdraw the farm’s permit.
But Mr Van der Velden told The Telegraph that he has been assured that there will be an official inspection if another animal falls in.
Peter van Wingerden, chief executive of the Floating Farm, said that animal welfare was top of the agenda at the site, which aims to demonstrate “sustainable” inner city farming techniques where animal waste is recycled and delivery chains are shorter.
“We are one of the best stables [and] animal friendliest farms in The Netherlands,” he told The Telegraph. “We supply fresh food in a circular, sustainable and very animal friendly way, straight to consumers.
“Last Tuesday a cow fell in the water because a young volunteer left the fence open. The same happened last year with a little calf when some visitor left another fence open. Cows can (like all animals with four legs) swim perfectly but another volunteer who did not have a clue about that immediately called 112.”
He said that on normal Dutch farms cows regularly fall into meadow water and have to be rescued by farmers, adding: “The fireman told me that this [cow rescue technique] is good to learn because this is the new way of sustainable farming in times of climate change. Until now they only rescued cats from trees.”