‘Unclear tasks in the event of a food crisis’ – News The Court of Auditors


News Court of Auditors

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The Court of Auditors has mapped which strategic buffers the government maintains. These buffers are not always present. For example, unlike Germany and Switzerland, the Netherlands has no strategic food stocks. The Netherlands can produce enough food itself, but there can be situations (such as major droughts or floods) that make food production difficult or even impossible, writes the Court of Auditors in its research report.

According to the Court of Auditors, the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine have shown that raw materials and essential products can become scarce. A food safety manual and a food distribution agreement between the government and the market are being prepared. According to the report, there is great uncertainty about the first food aid. It is not clear which authorities will do what and when. The Ministry’s employees state to the Court of Auditors that much is still needed to cope with a possible food crisis.

Graph from the Court of Auditors’ report: Focus on strategic shares.

According to research from Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands can in principle produce enough food by itself by adapting its diet. This is also evident from the data in the graph above from the FAO statistics office. The report shows that the Minister for LNV does not analyze the risk of major droughts or floods on food security. “If, for example, the Netherlands were under water, the inhabitants would be dependent on foreign (emergency) aid for food,” according to the Court of Auditors.

In Germany, which is less self-sufficient than the Netherlands, the government has built up strategic food stocks. According to the German government, according to the report, it is only possible to respond quickly to food shortages if a stockpile is always available. These are ready-to-use products such as rice, pulses, milk powder and condensed milk and products that still need to be processed such as wheat, rye and oats. With this buffer, each resident can eat at least one meal a day during a crisis. Switzerland is very dependent on imports. The stocks there consist of rice, sugar, edible oils and fats, coffee, grains and animal feed. The Swiss buffer is sufficient for two to four months.

Apart from food, there is also no strategic stockpile of gas. In addition, according to the Court of Auditors, little progress has been made in designating national groundwater reserves. Furthermore, there is currently no national oil crisis plan available as there is for gas and electricity. There are operational and strategic stocks of oil, medicine, medical equipment and cash.

Threatening diesel shortages could affect agriculture
The Ministry of Economy expects that there may be a shortage of diesel in the Netherlands due to sanctions against Russia. According to the Court of Auditors, the transport and logistics sector and agriculture can run into problems as a result. Diesel is also important during a crisis, for example to keep the food supply going and to keep the emergency generators going.

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Linda van Eekeres

Linda van Eekeres is co-writing editor-in-chief. She mainly focuses on macroeconomic developments and the impact of politics on the agricultural sector.

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