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Dutch immigrants arrive with television crew in tow

Stations join forces for documentary

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HICKSON, Ontario - The Klaas Hommes is not the first Dutch immigrant family to arrive in Canada with reporters in tow but likely is the first to be accompanied by a Dutch television documentary crew. With many Dutch farmers considering pulling up their roots in the Netherlands, emigration is again making headlines and a popular subject to report on.

The crew working for 2Vandaag, a joint news documentary program for two television stations, plan to visit the Hommes family again in September and in December for additional footage which would record their initial acculturation in Canada. In April, 2Vandaag followed the Hommesí around as they arranged their telephone and hydro connections, opened a bank account, did their first grocery shopping in the new environment and went to the school of son Hendrik (11) and Titia (13). The documentary is scheduled for air between Christmas and New Year.

Hommes who had a 67-hectare seed potato and sugarbeet farm near Lauwersmeer in the Province of Groningen, in Canada is switching to raising broilers on a farm north of Woodstock.

The Hommesí were infected with the Canada virus when they traveled to Ontario after visiting acquaintances in the U.S.A. in 1997. Only after returning to the Netherlands where farming is increasingly subject to regulations and constraints, did Klaas and Gerda Hommes entertain the idea of emigration. They since visited Canada to check out all the options and then listed their farm for sale.

The emigration process became urgent when they sold their farm after it had been on the market for one week. Although the Hommesí were not yet affected by the political malaise which confronts many Dutch hog, dairy and poultry farmers, at land prices of 80,000 to 100,000 an hectare their opportunities to expand were nonetheless severely restricted. A new start in Canada circumvented those problems.

Recent currency fluctuations may have slowed somewhat the eagerness to leave the Netherlands. Hommes feels that many other farmers also are attracted by prospects in Canada. The documentary on the Hommes family may just further stimulate this interest.