Under the new government, WUR will have to deal with three ministries in The Hague. This could complicate the management of the food and environmental research.
© Rufus de Vries, Geert-Jan Bruins
In previous years, the financing of the university and research institutes in Wageningen has been in the hands of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. However, two aspects will change for WUR with the arrival of the new cabinet. Firstly, the financing of green education will be moved from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Secondly, the new Minister of Agriculture, Carola Schouten, will be given her own ministry.
The new ministry will be the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality (Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit, LNV). This ministry will consist of the current board of Agriculture and Nature of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The employees who have worked in that division for some time can reach for their old business cards and email addresses once more, from the time the ministry was called the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries (Landbouw, Natuurbeheer en Visserij, which was also abbreviated as LNV).
Part of the financing of Wageningen Research, including the top sectors, is expected to remain in the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ hands. It includes a board for Innovation and Knowledge (Innovatie & Kennis) that will most probably remain within the ministry. However, a large part of the funds for the research institutes passes through the board of Agriculture & Nature knowledge (Agro en Natuurkennis, ANK), which will most probably be placed under the new Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality. This means that at least two ministries will want to engage in conversation with WUR about its research priorities.
Wageningen alumnus Harry Paul was appointed recently to separate the new Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The LNV functionaries will probably remain in the same building as Economic Affairs. Paul, who trained as phytopathologist in Wageningen, was Inspector-General of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) until last year. Before that, he took on various management positions at the agricultural ministry. Paul is no stranger to the official processes in The Hague well and has been appointed as ‘quartermaster’. The new ministry should be prepared before next summer.
For the time being, the officials in The Hague are busy redistributing competences and budgets. Three Ministers will have to think about what they want from WUR. These are – left to right – Carola Schouten (Agriculture, Nature and Food quality) from the ChristenUnie, Eric Wiebes (Economic Affairs and Climate) from the VVD and Ingrid van Engelshoven (Education, Culture and Science) from D66.