NUcheckt: Without a farmer, hunger does not yet lurk in Holland | NOW checking

Most of the food goes abroad

About 70 percent of the food produced by Dutch farms is exported abroad. About 30 percent is intended for the Netherlands itself.

According to the annual study by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Statistics Netherlands, commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, in 2021 EUR 104.7 billion of agricultural goods were transported abroad. As a result, agricultural exports exceeded 100 billion euros for the first time. The Dutch economy earned an estimated 46.1 billion euros in 2021 on exports of agricultural products.

Most of the agricultural exports went to Germany, which accounted for a quarter of total exports with 26.3 billion euros. Much was also exported to Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.

At the same time, the Netherlands is already dependent on imports of food, such as dairy products and meat. It’s not so much about cartons of milk, but more about processed products such as biscuits and sausage, according to the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).

According to research by WUR and CBS, imports of agricultural products in 2021 amounted to 72.5 billion euros. Here too, Germany, Belgium and France are our main partners.

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Most ‘Dutch’ agricultural land is located abroad

The amount of land needed to provide for Dutch consumption (by citizens and government) is also referred to as the footprint of the land. Most of the land (about a third of the Dutch footprint) is needed to grow food.

In 2019, the PBL calculated that 1,800 square meters per Dutchman would be needed to grow enough food. According to the Compendium for the Living Environment (CLO), this also corresponds to about three times the land area in the Netherlands.

More than 80 percent of the Netherlands’ footprints are therefore located abroad, of which about half are within the EU. This varies from, for example, cereals from France to soybeans from Brazil. In particular, potatoes, cereals, fruit, edible oil and sugar are imported from elsewhere in Europe.

Some products have to be imported from abroad because the Dutch soil is less suitable for their production. The Netherlands itself grows a relatively large number of vegetables, which are intended for both domestic consumption and export.

The Netherlands therefore has enough agricultural land to feed its own population, but that land is largely outside our own national borders.

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Farmers in the Netherlands play an important role in food production. However, it is not the case that the Dutch have to fear food shortages or even hunger if there are fewer farmers. This is because the vast majority of what farmers produce is transported abroad.

Even if there are fewer farmers, or if they produce less food, there will be more than enough left over to supply the Netherlands with food. This is because the Netherlands also imports a lot of food from abroad.

In any case, the Netherlands is not big enough to cover the total Dutch food consumption, so with our current diet we will have to continue to import food from abroad.


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