Science - May 22, 2020

‘Animal Protection poses good principles for food system’

Albert Sikkema

The Animal Protection Foundation’s delta plan for Animal Husbandry is a good point of departure from which to make the Dutch cattle farming sector more sustainable, says Imke de Boer.


The WUR professor of Animal Production Systems feels that the Animal Protection Foundation’s views should be integrated in a delta plan for the entire food system.

The Animal Protection Foundation has recently drawn up a Delta Plan Livestock Farming, in which the foundation outlines four paths of transition for the livestock sector. The plan envisions livestock farmers holding robust animals, each of which has access to paddocks or meadows; and that farmers are paid a better price for their meat, eggs and milk. It also envisions farmers collaborating in short chains, and supplying only high-quality products for the North-Western European market.

Focus on the animal
These are sensible principles, according to Imke de Boer. ‘Livestock farming should focus on the animal, and the farm should be adapted to the needs pf the animal. In reality, the opposite is often the case. Furthermore, I agree with the Animal Protection Foundation that European consumers should alter their diet. Our research shows that a diet containing two-thirds plant-based proteins and one-third of animal-based proteins makes the most effective use of natural resources.

The main question is: how do you challenge consumers to follow that diet, how do you charge for environment, biodiversity and animal welfare and who sets up an economic system that allows for such a charge? Do farmers require market protection? I think these questions need answers in an overarching delta plan for the entire food system.’’

I agree with the Animal Protection Foundation that European consumers should alter their diet
Imke de Boer, professor of Animal Production Systems

Low production price
Her colleague Eddie Bokkers of the chair group Animal Production Systems agrees. ‘It is good that the Animal Protection Foundation seeks to connect with partners through this integral plan. Welfare is an important issue that should be included in the designs for circular agriculture. The focus should not be just in the ecological aspects of sustainability. Although some farmers and stable systems already make this possible, most farmers are unable to take these steps as long as the food system focusses on keeping the production cost as low as possible.

Room to manoeuvre
According to De Boer, a delta plan for the entire food system is needed. This plan should include long term environmental manoeuvring room for levels of phosphate, greenhouse gasses and nitrogen. In this plan, the government should lay down a social foundation for our food system, which includes aspects of animal welfare. ‘Only thus can safe and fair freedom of action be created for food production’, says De Boer.



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  • Toon van Eijk

    Het voorstel van Imke de Boer om een deltaplan voor het gehele voedselsysteem te ontwikkelen lijkt me een uitstekend idee. Echter, zoals ze zelf stelt: "De grote vraag is: hoe daag je consumenten uit om dat dieet te volgen, hoe breng je milieu, biodiversiteit en dierenwelzijn in rekening en wie organiseert het economische systeem waarin dit mogelijk is?"
    In deze context heb ik in september 2019 een artikel gepubliceerd in het politiek-filosofische tijdschrift Civis Mundi, getiteld 'Kringlooplandbouw en Wageningen University & Research'.
    Zie hieronder voor een link:
    Van Eijk T. (2019). Kringlooplandbouw en Wageningen University & Research. Civis Mundi Digitaal #89, september 2019.

  • Marc Bracke

    Interessante reactie is dit, een uitgestoken hand die nadrukkelijk verbinding zoekt tussen consument, dier, boer en milieu middels een DELTAPLAN VOOR HET HELE VOEDSELSYSTEEM met als doel de huidige lineaire economie om te buigen naar een CIRCULAIRE NUTRIENTEN- & (MENS- & DIEREN-)WELZIJNSECONOMIE gebaseerd op het PRINCIPE DAT NIEMAND MEER CONSUMEERT DAN ER economische, ecologische en sociologische DRAAGKRACHT IS bij een rechtvaardige verdeling van lusten en lasten.