August 16, 2017

Dutch farmers seek match for their farms

Filed under: Animals,General by Orangemaster @ 9:21 pm

According to Statistics Netherlands, some 60 percent of farmers aged over 55 in the Netherlands don’t have anybody to leave their land to when they retire. They say 15,000 farms could disappear over the next decade, with more than eight out of 10 sheep farmers, and with pig and cow farmers only doing slightly better.

Now there’s a service called ‘Farmer Seeks Farmer’ that matches up people looking for a farm with those who will soon want to get rid of theirs. Backed by the Young Farmers’ Association, pig farmer Sander Thus has help set up the online scheme putting farmers close to retirement age in contact with young wannabe farmers.

Since the scheme was launched in 2011, several dozen farms have moved outside of the original family owners to be taken over by a new generation of farmers. And Thus hopes the numbers will grow, with 135 people searching for land registered on the site, and some 35 existing farmers looking for new blood to farm their lands. “Today, most of the people looking to take over a farm are self-employed between 20 and 40 who don’t come from the farming world, but want to roll their sleeves up,” he explains.


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September 28, 2014

Potato pop-up store opens in Amsterdam

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 11:20 am

aardappelmannetjes-joost-vd-toorn-uair01Quick, what is the world’s foremost potato exporting country? Yes, it’s the Netherlands, a country that exports almost twice the amount of potatoes it grows, leading France by just a few fries (which are Belgian anyway).

Enough of the FAOSTAT fueled statistics. Yesterday a Pieperboetiek (potato boutique) opened on the Jan Evertsenstraat in Amsterdam. Modern Farmer writes:

Between 26 September and 11 October, 25 tons of potatoes will parade through Amsterdam on big farm trucks. […] The pop-up will offer a wide and colourful variety of potatoes. “At first we were planning to have 30 types, but then some breeds got sick. So, it’s going to be 20 types,” says Felicia Alberding, a freelance journalist who is teaming up with potato farmers in organizing this event.

To make the pop-up more potato-y, there will naturally be an array of potato-related activities. The theatre team Superhallo will perform ‘Knol d’Amour’ which, they say, is both an ode to the potato and a delicious love story. The theatre makers will also host a fry potato party that lets people choose, peel and fry their own potatoes while they are playing music.

There will also be a tattoo artist who uses potato-based ink and both vodka and carrot-and-spinach tea are served, according to the store’s Facebook page.

The boutique was the idea of farmer Krispijn van den Dries from the Noordoostpolder area who wants to breed a better understanding between farmers and consumers. Felicia Alberding: “In most countries, farmers have become invisible over the past years. That anonymity is one of the reasons many people don’t value food and how it’s made any more.”

(Photo of De Aardappelmannetjes by Joost van den Toorn by Uair01, some rights reserved; this is a sculpture in Zoetermeer made from rocks and gilded bronze. It depicts two potato figures.)

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June 16, 2014

Eccentric farmers can kiss privacy goodbye

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 9:29 am

calves-orangemasterIn a fascinating article by anthropologist Lizzy van Leeuwen in De Groene Amsterdammer last month, she describes how farmers’ association LTO, together with the Dutch government, has set up a system for detecting and dealing with early warning signs of the mistreatment of farm animals.

A database kept by Vetrouwensloket Welzijn Landbouwhuisdieren (the confidential office for the well-being of farm animals) tracks symptoms such as excess deaths and diseases, hurt and crippled animals, parasites, poor development of young animals, and so on.

Nobody could object to such a system, but the database also registers information about the farmers themselves based on the idea that unhappy farmers make unhappy farm animals. This information includes attendance at meetings and the number of friendships a farmer maintains. Do farmers stop answering their phones and do their relationships fail? It is all registered.

If the signals reach a certain danger level, a team is sent to the farmers in question to try and help them get back on track. Magazine Veeteelt ran a headline in 2010 that aptly describes the duality of this approach: “Animal neglect can happen to anyone. [This system] prevents a negative image of the industry.”

The result is that some farmers—the loners, the ‘known’ problem cases—are pushed into extreme transparency through a finely mazed network of ‘reporters’ or ‘snitches’, depending on who you talk to. These are often the ‘erfbetreders’, a Dutch word I did not know until yesterday meaning ‘those who walk onto the farmyard’—the people who have to be on the farm for business and who rat out the farmer on the side.

Van Leeuwen’s four page article goes into incredible detail on how farmers are viewed by the general public. She hypothesizes that the Dutch have lost contact with farming world. Between 1947 and 1990 the percentage of people working in agriculture dropped from 20% to 4%. The general public are now in the habit of seeing farmers through isolated incidents, such as the 2011 tragedy in which a farmer from Brummen, Gelderland killed about 100 cows with a tractor and then killed himself. Van Leeuwen speaks of “a trend of viewing farmers as professional animal abusers”.

The result is that farmers have not just become an out-group, but in order to close the ranks they have decided to nip rare and extreme cases of animal abuse in the bud by creating their own out-group of lonely and eccentric farmers. Ironically, this does not seem to apply to factory farming, a practice to which pretty much everybody turns a blind eye.

Van Leeuwen’s article, “De weg van alle vlees—dierverwaarlozing op de boerderij“, is available on the web (in Dutch), but unfortunately behind a pay wall.

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April 6, 2012

Farmer threatens dog owners with ‘coldness’

Filed under: Animals,Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:01 pm

An angry cattle farmer in Hengelo put up a sign on his property that reads: ‘No dogs in the meadow, or I will ice your dog.’ (‘Geen honden in de wei, anders maar ik uw hondje koud.’) In Dutch, the last part literally translates as ‘I will make your dog cold’, which usually means to kill or ice, but not everyone agrees that’s what the farmer means. He put the sign up because he doesn’t want dog poo making his cows sick, and chances are, he’s pretty fed up at this point.

You could make a dog cold by spraying it with water, the police told the neighbours who let their dogs out in the meadow and removed the sign, assuming their dogs would get shot. The cops told the neighbours they were the ones committing an illegal act by removing a sign on private property.

In true Dutch ‘let’s talk it out’ fashion, the cops will get the sign back from the neighbours or fine them, and they’ll probably have coffee and biscuits, the farmer will give them a speech about how he doesn’t want dogs on his property full stop and the neighbours will promise not to do so. Then, the dog owners will ignore him, saying they pay enough dog tax to do what they want, and the cops will be by again, and so on.

Someone should spray them all with water.

(Link: Parool, photo by E. Dronkert, some rights reserved)

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September 20, 2007

‘Cool (male) farmers’ sought for calendar

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:38 am

Today, 15 ‘cool (male) farmers’ will be competing for a spot in the Stoere Boerenkalender 2008. People can vote on for their favourite farmer boys (as we write this, that part of the site is having probs). The organisation hopes to provide a sequel to last year’s successful ‘farmer’s daughter’ calendar (Boerendochterkalender). The site will publish the calendar in November, which will also be sold on line.

(Link: De Pers)

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July 16, 2007

Self-defense for poultry farmers

Filed under: Animals,Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 9:44 am

The Dutch union of poultry farmers (the NVP) wants to offer self-defense courses to its members as a response to the animal rights activitists’ training camp in Appelscha, Friesland. These animal rights activitists hold workhops in things such as how to arm themselves against police and the authorities. The NVP does not understand why these people are allowed to practice this activity in the Netherlands at all.


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