Owner Henk Bles sets forth his views about the future of dairy farming worldwide. In this article his vision on the growing gap between the Dutch urbanized society and the farmers.
The Dutch vision on dairy farming
Currently in the Netherlands the vision on dairy farming has sunk
to an all-time low due to lack of understanding between the government and the agricultural industry and a growing gap between our urbanized society and the farmers. Our challenge lies in managing the different convictions and sentiments resulting from competing agricultural values, as in conventional versus non-conventional (dairy) farming. This tendency seems to appear in other developed countries as well.
A sustainable food production
Farmers are well aware that future food production needs to be sustainable, meaning:
– Less emissions (N)
– Shorter carbon foot print (C02)
– Less pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers
– Alternative energy resources
A farmers’ “licence to produce”
Also there is a growing awareness among farmers that they should invest in improving animal welfare so cows can enjoy a higher productive life and take care about our environment and landscape. These are important values that need to be addressed in order to keep the farmers’ ”licence to produce”.
The most modern, most efficient and most durable …
The Netherlands can be proud to be recognized still today as one of the most modern, most efficient and most durable dairy producers around the world. Exactly the same words our government officials use when touring abroad. With implementing new technology also in the future the Dutch dairy farming industry will be seen as a worldwide leader and an example for a sustainable dairy industry. With our knowledge we can support the dairy industry globally towards a better world.
We depreciate our dairy farmers
Looking at the current developments I am getting worried. Nevertheless our state of the art leading position worldwide, in the Netherlands we depreciate our dairy farmers. An unguided debate lacking leadership with knowledge, leads the sector towards a polarized and paralyzed situation with a poor perspective for the future. This needs a drastic change in our mind-set.
An agricultural industry using less input with a higher output!
In my opinion it does not matter to which group you belong. What matters is HOW we keep feeding the growing urbanized world without exhausting mother earth. In simple words: HOW we can increase production using less resources and land available for agricultural. Our challenge is to develop an agricultural industry using less input with a higher output!
Willing to modernize and thinking in innovative solutions
As soon as we start to understand this simple philosophy and are willing to support this then at least we have a common ground. It means willing to modernize and thinking in innovative solutions like;
– Gen technology to use less pesticides and herbicides
– Genomics to breed cows with less environmental impact
– AI Technology and Automation for a better life and labour efficiency
– Precision farming to use less fertilizers
A strong platform to change the current mindset
I hope the Dutch government praises our farmers not only abroad and does not forfeit their strong lead position. Government, industry parties and producers have to cooperate and show leadership towards our society. Together they should form a strong platform to change the current mindset and set the goals for a healthy and sustainable farming into the future.
Henk Bles, owner Bles Dairies
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