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Netherlands Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
The Netherlands has long been known for its intensive and highly mechanized farming. For more than 300 years, agriculture has provided its own population with food and been able to export products, often with imported seeds and animal feed.
Although agriculture's share of gross domestic product (GDP) has decreased, agricultural products, horticulture and fisheries still account for around one-eighth of exports. Vegetables, ornamental flowers and meat are most important financially. The Netherlands is one of the world's largest exporters of agricultural products and the world's largest exporter of cut flowers and flower bulbs. More than 80 percent of the flower bulbs on the world market come from here.
The most important crops are potatoes, sugar beets and wheat, as well as vegetables such as onions, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes.
In principle, all available land is used for agriculture, or just over half the land area. Much of the cultivation takes place in greenhouses, which enables export all year round. Many farms have been relatively small, but an aging farmer's population, together with increased costs, has driven larger units. The number of farms decreased by one third between 2000 and 2014.
The Dutch farmers are far ahead in terms of new technology, chemical pesticides and intensive cultivation methods. However, this has a back side in the form of serious environmental problems. Animal husbandry produces more fertilizer than agriculture consumes and the use of both natural and artificial fertilizers leads to eutrophication of watercourses. Dutch agriculture is behind a large part of the pollution of the North Sea. To counteract continued environmental damage, the government has introduced production restrictions and a ceiling for the maximum permitted amount of manure per hectare.
During the years around the turn of the millennium, Dutch agriculture, like several of the neighboring countries, suffered from serious outbreaks, including swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease and mad cow disease. Along with environmental problems and consumer protests, this has driven an increased ecological activity in agriculture, but the proportion is still small.
Fishing in the North Sea and the Atlantic has declined in importance since stocks of herring, among others, have been depleted, but the industry is still economically significant.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
1.6 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
53.3 percent (2016)
State responsible for Srebrenica
A court ruled that the Dutch state is responsible for the death of three Muslim men in connection with the Serbian massacre of over 7,000 men and boys in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in ex-Yugoslavia in 1995. The three men worked on the Dutch peacekeeping force's base in area, but ended up in the violence of the Serbian forces when they were forced to leave the base. The government later decides to give the relatives EUR 20,000 in damages.
Queen Beatrix abdicates
The 75-year-old queen leaves in accordance with the message she gave in January over the throne to her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. He becomes the country's first king in 123 years - before Beatrix, her mother Juliana and grandmother Vilhelmina were queens.
The Minister of Finance becomes the euro chairman
The Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem (PvdA) is appointed as new chairman of the so-called euro group, the eurozone finance ministers of the euro area countries.