Rabobank says drought is costing Dutch farmers 30% of sales

The weeks-long drought in the Netherlands will cost Dutch farmers about 30% of their normal annual revenues, Wiebe Draijer, CEO of Rabobank,has told broadcaster RTL. 'Farmers are having a tough time right now and the drought makes things even worse,' Draijer said. Rabobank traditionally serves the agricultural sector. Rabo is meeting with its farmer-clients to help improve their liquidity. Draijer said the financial problems are not structural and farmers are facing a temporary shortage of cash. Farmers are dependent upon their bank for financial support as the government has said it will not compensate farmers for damage to their harvests. Farm minister Carola Schouten has agreed to extend bridging loans to farmers who have lost crops and cannot wait until the end of the year when EU agricultural subsidies are handed out. ‘The drought has hurt our farmers and market gardeners,’ she said earlier this month. ‘This is a difficult and uncertain time for them.’ Farmers will also be allowed to spread manure on their land up to September 15, two weeks beyond the normal cut-off point, the minister said. Dutch potato growers and potato processing firms are already in talks to determine who is to pay for the problems with this year’s harvest.  More >

Green energy producers plan merger

Sustainable energy provider Greenchoice has presented a plan to merge with its smaller Dutch peer Qurrent to Dutch consumer authority ACM which regulates the energy sector, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Thursday. Financial details were not provided. Together, the two companies have around 500,000 subscribers. The transaction is expected to be completed on 1 October. The two companies operate in virtually the same manner by providing green energy and making homes more energy efficient, said Greenchoice spokesman Martin de Boer. Grenchoice said the merger would speed up the transition to green energy on the local level. Conventional energy supplier Eneco acquired a 30% stake in Greenchoice in 2007. Qurrent is 100%-owned by Stichting Doen,  a green foundation which receives the bulk of the Postcode lottery funds. Qurrent is known chiefly as a shirt sponsor for Rotterdam football team Feyenoord. Consumers organisation Consumentenbond named Qurrent the ‘grrenest energy supplier’ for the fourth year running in 2017. The company, which has yet to turn a profit, owns no wind turbines - it is a re-seller of locally produced energy.  More >

Water boards issue fines for illegal water

Water boards have so far handed out 39 fines to private individuals and farmers who have broken the ban on sprinklers and given official warnings to 150 more, the national water board association said on Thursday. The minimum fine is €500 for individuals and €1,500 for companies. Water boards have been using spotter planes and drones in an effort to catch illegal watering. ‘These figures show that the ban is working well,’ spokesman Dirk-Siert Schoonman told Radio 1 news. ‘Most people take note when they get an official warning and don’t make the same mistake again.’ Most fines have been handed out in Gelderland and Overijssel where farmers have faced the major problems because of the drought. Thirteen of the 21 water boards in the Netherlands have imposed a ban on using water from lakes or streams for irrigation.  More >

VAT hike will cost households €300

Costs for the average Dutch household are expected to increase by €300 in 2019 as the low value added tax rate increases to 9% from 6%, according to a report by ING. Groceries, books and theatre tickets will cost more because of the rise. However income tax is set to go down and income will rise for most households, boosting purchasing power. Shifting the focus of taxation away from personal income and toward consumption is part of the government’s tax reform plan, ING said Increasing the lower BTW rate is expected to raise €3.1bn and will add 0.6% to inflation, according to figures supplied by the government think tank CPB.   More >

Hot summer boosts holidays at home

Fewer people in the Netherlands went on a foreign holiday this June and July, as the long spell of dry, sunny weather encouraged people to stay home, the travel agency umbrella group ANVR said on Tuesday. Bookings were down 5.5% in June and 8% in July, the ANVR said. ‘When the weather is good, people wait to book a holiday. And when they do book, they are more impulsive,’ spokeswoman Mirjam Dresmé said. The biggest drop in bookings was to Spain, where 20% fewer holidays were sold.  More >