Organisatie - 24 september 2015

A green old age

Farming is not just a way of earning a living; it’s a way of life. If it’s money you’re after you’d be better off dealing in real estate or arms. Farmers’ first love is their land, their animals, their crops and the nature around. After that comes their income. But there is a lot of pressure on farmers to be entrepreneurs. The life of the farmer is increasingly amputated; what is left is what is ‘rational’.

After the second world war Sicco Mansholt transformed farmers into entrepreneurs. With the result that the number of farms in the Netherlands declined by an average of 15 per day between 1950 and 2014.

But luckily Sicco Mansholt loved life too, especially after he retired. The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth convinced him he had been wrong. His frustration was heard in the Mansholt theatre at Droevendaal: ‘I allowed myself to be corrupted by capitalism.’ Going green in your old age.

A few days earlier, the WUR gave the Mansholt Business Award to a seed-breeding company. The headline in Trouw newspaper read: ‘Leave crop improvement to the experts’. Can’t farmers do it? Another bit of life is taken from the farmers. Does that deserve a WUR prize?

Fortunately there is the European Mansholt Prize too. In 2007 it went to farmer Jan Huijgen for his tremendous ‘dedication to multifunctional agriculture and the link between citizens and farmers’. Farming is a way of life for Jan. And he gets a prize for that. Is the WUR too going truly green in its old age?

Kees van Veluw (57)
teaches Permaculture and is active in organic agriculture networks. His vision stems from his work with African farmers, his networks with Dutch farmers, his family life with his wife, three sons, dog and chickens.