Student - April 12, 2018


Vincent Oostvogels

After some hesitation I chose ‘Donald’ over ‘Obama’. The decisive factor was resistance to potato blight. No one who takes his vegetable garden seriously can afford to let political preference influence his choice of seed potatoes.

Vincent Oostvogels (22) is exploring the delicate interface between nature management and food production through his two Master’s programmes, Forest and Nature Conservation and Animal Sciences

I don’t know whether these varieties really were named after Donald Trump and Barack Obama – the name Donald has gone down in popularity in the past one and a half months, apparently, although in the case of ‘Obama’ it seems more likely. I wouldn’t automatically associate either president with agriculture. Nor many other presidents, come to that. They are rarely very interested in it.

With the exception of Emmanuel Macron. Last month it was time for the annual visit of the French president to le Salon International de l'Agriculture, a big agricultural show in Paris. We tend to look down on it in the Netherlands, seeing it as proof that in French politics, agriculture is primarily an image thing. Politicians adopt carefree poses for a photograph next to a cow, while angry farmers demonstrate outside.

But Macron didn’t come to the agricultural show to cuddle cows. He did what he’s been doing for years: persistently explaining the direction in which he wants to take French agriculture. For the demonstrating farmers, it might take a bit of getting used. But although he probably hasn’t won them over, like me, they ought to appreciate the fact that a president gives so much priority to their sector.