Keeping agriculture viable in the Netherlands

Better identification of inspection candidates, accurate EU reporting and informed policy decisions

As one of the world’s largest exporters, agricultural products are vitally important to the Netherlands’ economy and its international relations. With the EU governing the legislative and regulatory landscape, the Dutch government carefully implements its guidelines. And for its fertilizer policy, it relies on SAS® to take an efficient and intelligent approach to detecting and enforcing inspections.

Monitoring and enforcing fertilizer policy

Since 2006, the government has supported compliance and enforcement of the fertilizer policy by detecting and selecting potential violations. How? By analyzing information from multiple department databases and third-party data sources through risk analysis, and turning the results into answers on who warrants administrative checks and physical inspections.

SAS allows us to combine, analyze and provide transparent insight into large amounts of data … we’re about 10 times more effective at identifying the companies we should and should not subject to an inspection.

Kees Kloet
Team Manager of the Analysis, Selection and Data Availability Department

Kees Kloet, Team Manager of the Analysis, Selection and Data Availability Disclosure Department of Netherlands Enterprise Agency, explains, “The earlier we identify potential offenders, the less cost we have from unnecessary inspections. This also protects farmers from unnecessary administrative hassles and stress. The inspections are very intensive, so the more redundant visits we can avoid, the better.”

Kloet’s group uses SAS to better predict which companies warrant an administrative check or physical inspection. He says,  “Thanks to SAS, we’re about 10 times more effective at identifying the companies we should and should not subject to an inspection.”

Tons of data

“We have data on 80,000 agricultural holdings, entrepreneurs and their families, locations, parcels, crops, animal species, grant applications, payments, manure storage, and so on,” says Kloet.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency selected SAS because it needed to process enormous volumes of data in widely varying formats. SAS is one of the few vendors that can process these diverse data formats without time-consuming modifications. “Our data originates from diverse systems and comes in multiple formats – Excel, Access, Oracle and proprietary formats. The solution also had to offer flexible and powerful statistical analysis capabilities,” says Kloet.

“We also had to be able to quickly modify a query. For instance, we need to check data that deviates from other data records. The results of audits and inspections are also part of the process, and we didn’t want to be forced to reprogram things every time we made a modification."

Accountability to Europe

Accountability toward Europe and associated reporting continues to increase.  “The Netherlands Enterprise Agency handles the payment of more than a billion Euros in grants a year. Among other things, we account for this using a cross table and control statistics to ensure a solid audit trail,” says Kloet.

In total, Kloet and his team provide the EU with more than a hundred reports a year. This is more and more important because of the increasingly complex nature of the data and higher demands.

Making data available to those who need it

“In the past few years, our department has become more customer-oriented. We’ve even added the term ‘data availability’ to our name,” says Kloet.

The data specialists and analysts use a portal to ensure that other organizations get the tailored data they need. The portal helps them keep the data correct and up-to-date until the very moment it’s downloaded.

“SAS allows us to combine, analyze and provide transparent insight into large amounts of data, so that we can enforce policy more efficiently and account for our actions according to the audit guidelines.”

Predicting policy effects

When preparing new policies, it helps policy managers to understand possible impacts. Kloet’s team calculates what-if scenarios for these cases:

  • What if the grant basis changes?
  • What will be the economic impact?
  • What is the current destiny of grants?
  • Where will grants end up if a new system is implemented?

“Much policy is initially based on assumptions,” says Kloet. “But, if you’re able to predict the actual impact, this will substantially improve your policy.

“With SAS, we can transform various types of data into reliable, transparent and valuable information. We’ve gradually expanded to policy preparation and reporting to the European Union.”

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Challenge

For fertilizer policy, improve administrative checks and inspections through risk analyses on data for targeted interventions and perform EU-auditable reporting.

Solution

Benefits

  • Improved identification of risk groups by a factor of 10.
  • Greater efficiencies and cost reductions in inspection process.
  • Ability to calculate impact of policy vision for better decisions.
  • Accountability for grants, spending and greater compensation by the EU.

About

The Analysis, Selection and Data Availability Disclosure Department provides information services to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency as well as to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.

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