Ad van Velde is dairy farmer and a member of the Global Farmer Network in the Netherlands. Sharing his 2022 analysis, he explains the past year’s experiences, the inspiration of the Global Farmer Network and offers an exchange of how dairy farmers all over the world face the same challenges. With his permission, his blog is shared below.
“For me personally, 2022 was a fairly normal year. Not as a farmer, but in relation to my other activities. That means I spoke to a lot of farmers and also visited a lot of farms all over the world. On the other hand we had a lot of foreign visitors at our farm as well last year. I joined several congresses in Europe, but also in North and South America and in Asia. I also met a lot of young, enthusiastic young farmers. That was really very special.
So mostly dairy farmers, from all parts of the world, and leading industry representatives, sharing a passion for the dairy industry. Sometimes far from home, far from their familiar surroundings. It create other vibes, another mindset and inspirations. And I felt inspired by the meetings with all kind of dairy farmers and the people I met during the farm visits. People of all ages and backgrounds, entrepreneurs, professionals, all sharing a desire to build the future of the dairy industry.
Personally, I was especially touched by the representatives of the younger generation of farmers and their views, dreams, and ideas about the future.
So, what does our future look like?
The world will require us to produce more food, whether we like it or not, and dairy will remain an important necessity. Several factors influence how the future will be shaped.
First, water. This is and will become an even bigger topic. In several parts of the world, e.g. in the US, water is becoming a scarce commodity and this will have huge impact on how the dairy, in fact the entire food production industry, will develop. Growth may be limited in some parts of the world while other parts will become more important.
Then there is GMO. This continues to have an impact on how farming will be shaped. In Brazil 3 years ago, 50% non-GMO farming, now only 5%. Production is too expensive in relation to yields. Still a remarkable development in view of global trends!
Another topic is the fight for land. Higher outputs will require access to high yielding land. The better the land, the higher the prices. But farmers are not the only ones looking to obtain this land. Big investors, wealthy individuals are competing. Farmers are an important link in solving the global food issue. We need to nurture and safeguard that link.
Finally, public opinion. These days everyone has an opinion on agriculture. This was unthinkable a mere 10 years ago. These days governments want to co-decide what farmers do, where they do it and how they do it. We see this in most Western economies, and it will surely happen elsewhere too. It is crucial that we keep an open dialogue with all stakeholders, but also to keep our focus on our core business.
Global Farmer Network is one leading voices of the world’s farmers. An awesome value for the agriculture industry. We must continue to be practical, entrepreneurial, down-to-earth and realistic, now and in the future.” -Ad van Velde, dairy farmer in the Netherlands