How did the Regio Foodvalley Agricultural Network come about?
Ilona: “In 2017, a manifesto was drafted at the Salentein Estate in Nijkerk, by parties from and around the agricultural sector in the Foodvalley region. Considerable unease in the sector is nothing new; even back then there was an awareness of the need to work together to have a longer-term perspective on the future of the agricultural sector.” Kees continues: “Within the agricultural network, partners are therefore joining forces in the firm belief that innovation in the sector is necessary, but that no one can do it alone. Maximum development is stimulated by working together with several local partners, including government, farmers and businesses, to achieve concrete results. The aim of all this is to maintain a strong, future-proof agricultural sector in this region.”
There is currently much debate about farmers. How do you make sure that within the agricultural network, the discussion is actually engaged with farmers?
Ilona: “As a network, we are not just there for the farmer, but we also stand with them. Our affiliated partners are very much hands-on, and are mainly agriculture-related organisations and companies.” By involving local authorities, they are well aware of what is important in this area. Kees: We are working on various themes such as Room for Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Guidance, Value and Earning and Living Environment. In developing these themes, a healthy dose of farmers’ common sense is needed, which is why a large share of the participants involved in these themes are farmers.
Ilona: “A good example is the theme of Entrepreneurial Guidance. Farmers are under a lot of pressure. The impact of the coronavirus and the responsibilities facing the agricultural areas in terms of nitrogen, sustainability and biodiversity present many challenges. Different pathways offering guidance on a technical, business or personal level can help to make better choices - choices that can be made with an expert, simply at the kitchen table. Or just have a sparring partner about future developments – that is also possible. That alone offers so many insights.”
Within the agricultural network, partners are therefore joining forces in the firm belief that innovation in the sector is necessary, but that no one can do it alone. - kees van Vuuren
She adds with enthusiasm: “The helpdesk Agroloket Regio Foodvalley was also founded for this purpose. This helpdesk keeps track of the projects and initiatives for farmers in the Foodvalley region, and we can easily connect farmers with each other or with an existing initiative. This way, there should be no reinventing of the wheel over and over again, and farmers can quickly find the most appropriate information. They can also come here with knowledge questions.”
What defines the partners and farmers participating in the Regio Foodvalley Agricultural Network?
Kees says: “All participants in our network – both partners and farmers – have a clear goal: working together towards a future-proof food and agribusiness sector in the region. We can only achieve this by continuous development and innovation. We don’t shy away from critical questions and some matters can be improved as a sector. We have noticed that critical discussion is not being avoided in our network, but fortunately, there is still a strong emphasis on mutual respect. That is how we keep each other focused.”
The VanDrie Group is a partner of the Regio Foodvalley Agricultural Network. Why is the VanDrie Group doing this?
Marijke Everts (Director Corporate Affairs VanDrie Group) explains: “A large number of the veal farmers we work with are based in the Foodvalley region. Therefore, a vital, sustainable region is very important to us. As a Dutch family business, we have a long-term vision. We want to make the world a better place for future generations. We want to comply with the conditions set by society. And the veal sector is capable of doing that. We can be a vital sector supplying Europe with delicious and sustainable veal.
Through the Regio Foodvalley Agricultural Network we can initiate a dialogue about the challenges we are facing. It is important to have an honest discussion, but also to be a good listener and show understanding. The agricultural network is an example of how multiple parties can work together, obtain local support and become even better at joining forces in the region. This is important for the future of our company. We have such great companies in the Foodvalley region - true super farmers! The Regio Foodvalley Agricultural Network can be the instrument to further promote this sense of pride.”
Would you like to know more about the Regio Foodvalley Agricultural Network or would you like to participate?
You can read more about this at www.landbouwnetwerkregiofoodvalley.nl!