Organisation - April 15, 2010

Wageningen lobby goes for food and agriculture

Executive Board draws political parties' attention to economic importance. Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality should not be split up

The Executive Board urged political parties at the start of April to spare fundamental and applied research in food and agriculture when making cutbacks. Nature and climate research barely feature in the Position Paper; Wageningen UR has focused on the economic importance of the knowledge chain for the food and agriculture industry.
To quote the memorandum to the political parties: 'The Netherlands ranks second when it comes to the export of agricultural and horticultural products, food products and drink. The sector employs 600 thousand workers in around 96 thousand firms, making it crucially important for employment in the Netherlands.'
The Board considers this success to be due to the continual conversion of scientific developments into practical applications. But firms are often too small to carry out their own research and development, making them highly dependent on knowledge developed with the help of government money.
The Board concludes too that the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality should not be split up. 'It will be necessary to safeguard the socio-economic contributions of the agri-food sector to The Netherlands Inc. when drawing up the new coalition agreement. Structural investments in scientific and applied knowledge are essential if we are to maintain and improve our global position. That means we need to avoid the fragmentation of interrelated areas like nature, food and agriculture that would arise if they were split into different departments.'