AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - As many as one-third of Dutch farmers consider themselves to be in financial trouble, and a similar percentage feel abandoned by society, according to a new study by farm organizations and a public television show.
A quarter of farmers consider themselves working poor, and 32 percent cannot survive on their farm income alone, according to a report by the TV show “NCRV’s Rondom 10” to be aired on Saturday evening.
The survey also found that nearly one in five farmers wants to stop work within five years, but about two-thirds of them had no successor to take over the farm.
The study, run in cooperation with three regional agriculture organizations, surveyed 3,000 farmers.
The news comes just days before the government presents its budget for next year, one that is expected to show the Dutch economy slowing even as deficits decline.
According to national farm and plant organization LTO Nederland, agriculture makes up about 10 percent of the Dutch economy and represents about 20 percent of the national exports.
That, according to LTO, makes the Netherlands the world’s third-largest agricultural producer.
But LTO, in its own statement on Saturday, said not all the results of the survey were negative.
Nearly 76 percent of the farmers surveyed said they believed they were in a position to run a profitable business in the future, while only one in 10 believed that so-called “mega-farms” were the way of the future.
LTO’s chairman, in the statement, also said the NCRV show was not doing justice to the results of the survey.
“There is plenty of dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit among farmers and gardeners,” Albert Jan Maat said. “The members are open to new developments and other activities on the farm.”
Reporting by Ben Berkowitz; editing by James Jukwey