Spanish holding to become Europe’s largest dairy farm with 20,000 cows

A farm under construction in the province of Soria in Spain is planning to have a 20,000-cow milking capacity which, if it goes ahead, will purportedly make it the largest dairy farm in Europe.

The farm will be built in the village of Noviercas, which has a population of 166 local inhabitants.

Between 250 and 300 workers will be employed when the farm is fully developed over a four to five-year period, according to local reports.

The project is being undertaken by the Spanish dairy co-op Valle de Odieta (“Odieta Valley”), which will reportedly invest up to €95m on the farm.

The farm will comprise of an alleged 3,000ha of land, 150ha of which will be used for housing and livestock facilities.

The move has received a mixed response, with a local agricultural association UPA-COAG denouncing it, saying “it will be detrimental to other farmers in the area”.

The UPA-COAG has even begun a petition to halt the development of the dairy farm, claiming it would destroy up to 726 jobs along with 432 family farms in the area.

The group has asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Junta de Castilla y Leon to halt the project and defend a production model for small and medium-sized farms – to ensure sustainable and balanced rural development.

However, another local agricultural association, the Asaja de Soria, has come out in support of the project, according to El Economista, a Spanish publication.

Its President, Carmelo Gómez Sanz, points to the depopulation of the area at present, noting that many farmers are leaving agriculture.

We know that there is controversy and that the sector may not like it whenever there is competition.

“But in Soria, there is nothing else. We have to welcome everything that comes and this is an investment of 80 million euros that will create jobs,” he said.

The co-op in question has reportedly come to an agreement with virtually all owners of the land required in the actual municipality area of Noviercas, some 900ha, to undertake the project.

One of the main obstacles yet to be cleared by the company is the issue of environmental impact – with waste and excessive water use seen as a concern.

A review is currently being carried out to establish the environmental effects of the project.

Two local politicians have spoken on the matter, both expressing concern for the current local producers.

Dabid Anaut (EH Bildu) said that the proposed farm, Valle de Odieta, encompasses almost the same number of dairy cows that all of Navarra currently has, just over 25,000.

Ruben Velasco (Podemos) noted that the milk produced by the projected 20,000 cows would represent 28% of the total currently produced in Castilla y Leon.