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Farmers, supermarkets switch to ‘new’ chicken but not for exports

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Research by Wageningen University for animal welfare organisation Wakker Dier, shows fewer poultry farmers are rearing so-called ‘plofkippen’, or fast-growing factory-farmed chickens.

Over the last seven years, 30% of chicken farmers have switched to a breed of chicken that does not grow so fast and therefore cannot be classified as ‘plofkip’ (exploding chicken), the researchers said.

The new breed, called ‘the new standard chicken’ at Jumbo supermarkets and ‘the new AH Chicken’ at Albert Heijn, has more space, grows at a slower pace and lives an average of a week longer.

‘Most supermarkets have made the change, so most consumers are covered’, Anne Hilhorst of Wakker Dier told broadcaster NOS. The animals’ physical condition has improved markedly compared to 2011 when Wageningen researchers also looked into the discomforts suffered by factory-farmed chickens.

In 2011, for example, 50% of chickens had foot sores. That has now gone down to 15% to 20%. But Wakker Dier commented that 70% of Dutch chickens are exported abroad and that most of these are of the fast-growing variety.

‘We eat the ‘better quality chicken’ at home, Hilhorst is quoted as saying. ‘We hope all chickens in the Netherlands will eventually qualify for a minimum of one-star Beter Leven quality label.

All pork is now one star, so it can be done. It’s a little more expensive but consumers will pay for what they trust,’ she told the broadcaster. (DutchNews)

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EYE film museum to host conference for investors in cannabis

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Eye film museum in Amsterdam will next month hold a conference focused on encouraging investment in cannabis products, the Parool reported at the weekend.

Processing the marijuana plant in drinks and chocolate, for example, is a major trend with offers great investment opportunities, the organisers say.

Michael Kraland, who is behind the conference, says that American and Canadian companies are currently leading in marijuana-based products, but that laws make this more difficult in Europe.

Recent major deals include the €3.8bn which drinks company Constellation Brands put into Canopy Growth, which grows medical cannabis. And Heineken owns an American company named Lagunitas, which in turn produces Hi-Fi Hops, a non-alcoholic cannabis drink.

Two analysts from Germany bank Berenberg Bank will analyse the Constellation deal at the convention, and there will be various firms who are active in the industry, including Dutch medicinal marijuana firm Bedrocan. (DutchNews)

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Rabobank says drought is costing Dutch farmers 30% of sales

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – 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. (DutchNews)

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Despite record temperatures, relatively few heat-related deaths, says CBS

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – There were relatively few heat-related deaths in the Netherlands during the heatwaves this summer, the national statistics office CBS said on Friday.

There was an average of 2,714 deaths every week during the heatwaves, about 100 more than during a normal week in the summer, the CBS said. By way of comparison, there were an additional 400 deaths every week during the long heatwave in the summer of 2006.

There have been two official heatwaves so far this year: from July 15 to 27 and between August 6 and 15. The second goes down as the longest and most intense in at least 100 years.

Earlier research by the CBS confirms that deaths increase as the mercury rises. An estimated 1,000 additional people died during the 2006 heatwave than in normal weeks that summer.

The CBS said the death rate this summer may have been tempered by higher-than-usual flu-related deaths this past winter. (DutchNews)

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Death by drowning unchanged at 86 in 2017: CBS

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – In total 86 residents of the Netherlands died by drowning last year, the same number as in 2016 but well down on the more than 500 drowning deaths registered in 1950, the national statistics office CBS reported on Thursday.

A total of 14,600 people has drowned since 1950. Deaths by drowning fell back sharply in the late 1980s, with the number at about 80 a year over the past decade.

Youngsters with a non-western background accounted for 20% of drownings in the period between 2013 to 2017, the CBS said.

Earlier this month, lifeguards warned that swimmers are not properly aware of the risks and responsibilities they have when seeking to escape the heat in the sea or lakes and rivers.

Between July 2 and August 5, lifeguards were called out 3,259 times, around the normal amount for an entire summer season. (DutchNews)

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Heart failure could heighten the risk of developing cancer: Dutch research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Heart failure heightens the risk of developing cancer, according to a group of doctors in Groningen who have carried out wide-ranging research using both mice and humans.

A heart with a damaged pump excretes a substance which can stimulate the growth of tumors, the doctors found. The results of the research are published in the medical journal Circulation.

‘Heart failure upsets the entire system,’ research leader Rudolph de Boer told the NRC. ‘It speeds up biological ageing. Patients can develop problems with their kidneys, liver and often become anaemic.

‘We saw a lot of people in our clinic who were anaemic who were notably dying of cancer. Our hypothesis was that this was due to the damaged heart.’ (DutchNews)

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Parents jailed for locking son, 8, in a chest while living on a campsite

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A German couple who tied up and beat their eight-year-old son and locked him in a chest at night have been jailed for three years by a Dutch court.

The incidents took place on a campsite in Winterswijk in July 2017 and came to light after another camper spotted the naked boy, named Jayden, looking for food. He told the man he was looking for new parents because his own wanted to lock him up.

The couple and two other children were found by police in a caravan on the campsite and the parents. They had told people they were living on the campsite while their house was being built.

It later transpired the couple had earlier convictions for child abuse. The three children are now living with foster parents. (DutchNews)

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Nearly 8 in 10 Dutch exercise at least once a week: Trouw

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch take more exercise than anyone else in Europe, with 80% cycling, walking, swimming, dancing or gardening on a weekly basis, according to European Commission figures, quoted by Trouw.

The European average is just 44%, the Eurobarometer research shows. In total, 28,000 people over the age of 15 were polled for the survey, of whom just over 1,000 were in the Netherlands.

VU University professor Eco de Geus told Trouw the good infrastructure in the Netherlands makes it easy for people to exercise by, for example, cycling to work.

In terms of sport, the Netherlands also scored well, with 56% playing sports on a regular basis, compared with an EU average of 40%. However, Sweden, Denmark and Finland topped the sports list.

The Dutch are also more likely to say they take part in sport for pleasure rather than to improve their health than other EU nationals, Trouw said. (DutchNews)

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The long hot summer encourages more people to holiday at home

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – 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. (DutchNews)

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Job seekers have never had it so good as vacancies surpass 10-year record

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of job vacancies in the Netherlands reached 251,000 in the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 16,000 over the first three months of the year and 2,000 more than the record set at the end of 2007, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday.

The number of job vacancies has risen each quarter in the past five years, the CBS said, and was seen in nearly every sector. The highest number of job openings was in trade with 50,000 vacancies while commercial services, education and industry each had more than 2,000 vacancies.

Financial services were the only sector to register a loss. Job openings are half the number recorded at the end of 2008. The number of job vacancies increased by 52,000 in the second quarter, the seventh consecutive quarter in which more than 50,000 vacancies were registered.

Full time All jobs – full-time contracted employment, part-time, and shared – were included in the figures. But by far the largest category, 48,000, was for full time jobs. Most were in trade and catering but were also seen in the care and transport sectors.

The number of unemployed fell by 14,000 in the second quarter. There are now 14 unemployed for every 10 job vacancies, the CBS said. This nearly equals 2008 when there were 13 unemployed for every 10 job openings.

The jobs market has been officially under stress for the past three quarters. This indicates that demand for employment was above average and the supply available limited. (DutchNews)

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