Netherlands Seen by LEI Self-Sufficient in Food Without Imports

The Netherlands, the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter, would have enough food to feed its population even without trade, according to a study by farm-economy researcher Landbouw Economisch Instituut.

Every Dutch citizen would still have access to a varied diet even if an “extraordinary crisis” were to halt all food imports and exports, LEI, an affiliate of Wageningen University located in The Hague, wrote on its website. Consumers would lack imported foods such as rice and bananas, it said.

The Netherlands is the second-most-densely populated country in the 27-nation European Union after Malta, figures from EU statistics office Eurostat showed. The study will help the Dutch Economy Ministry update its national food-supply crisis-management handbook, according to LEI.

“It’s hardly conceivable that the Netherlands, in today’s era of globalization and supranational cooperation, could ever end up in such an autarkic situation,” LEI wrote. “This assumption is, however, a good aid to explore the limits of agricultural production in extraordinary crisis circumstances.”

A no-trade diet would include bread, potatoes, sugar, legumes, vegetables, fruit, milk, meat and eggs, according to the study. Dutch consumers would lack access to citrus fruit, olive oil, coffee, tea and alcohol, it showed. Many citizens would supplement their diets through vegetable plots, small-scale brewing, hunting and fishing, LEI wrote.

The Dutch livestock industry would shrink without trade, while arable farmers would have to change crops, the researcher wrote. Without animal-feed imports, many pig and poultry breeders would be forced to shut down and dairy farmers would probably be limited to using fodder, the study showed.

A lack of exports would result in “tremendous” stocks of meat and dairy products, according to the researcher. While most adjustments in farm production would be market-driven, growing enough rapeseed to replace the loss of vegetable-oil imports would require government measures, LEI said.

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