Poor potato harvest could drive Dutch farmers out of business

Picture: United States Department of Agriculture
Picture: United States Department of Agriculture

Dutch potato farmers face going out of business if the worst fears about this year’s poor crop are realised, industry observers have warned.

The combination of a wet spring and hot, dry weather during the harvest season has put paid to hopes of a bumper harvest, said the Dutch crop farmers’ association VTA. Potato prices in the shops are already 30% to 40% above ‘normal’ levels.

In parts of Limburg, North Brabant and Gelderland the year’s crop was written off as early as July as fields flooded. The sector has also been hit by the discovery of the rare disease potato tuber spindle viroid in the north-east polder region.

The harvest in Belgium and northern France has been similarly affected by the extreme conditions. Many farmers are under pressure because their contracts require them to fix their prices at the start of the season. A poor harvest means the cost of the shortfall is borne by the farmer.

A better than average potato harvest in eastern Europe means that consumers will not see potato shortages on the supermarket shelves, the VTA added.

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