Report Synopsis

How do I tell the farmer’s story to the larger audience?

Yvon Jaspers

Since 2005 I create and present the TV-program “Farmer Wants a Wife” for the public broadcasting station: a program about the love life on the countryside, about people that vulnerable as they search for a partner for life. Now, fifteen years later countless marriages have been performed and over 80 babies were born. Not only the love lives, but also the viewing figures are a great success. With a market share of around 50% and an average of three million viewers, very few programmes on Dutch television perform better.

Coming from a farmers family, I have long felt the urge to not only tell the love story of the country side but address the real life that farmers face. In the past 15 years while visiting farmhouses, I witnessed the tough battle that many farmers fight. How they struggle for survival in a world which is drenched in complex rules and regulations. How they are forced to make huge investments without knowing whether these will still meet the requirements after a period of ten years. How they need to deal with animal activists that secretly occupy their stables and with a farmers community that is internally divided about the most preferred way of farming.

I was looking for a way to create a TV-programme that, on the one hand, has high entertainment value, thereby drawing the same large audiences that also traditionally view the popular programme Farmer Wants a Wife. On the other hand, I wanted the new programme to address technical knowledge, farmers trade-offs, controversial issues such as animal welfare and the mutual link between nature and agriculture. I want the programme to be triggering a nuanced discussion about where our food comes from, based on facts instead of opinions.

To find inspiration about the new TV-format, I travelled to several continents around the world. I’ll give you an overall impression of my findings, of course this does not do justice to all the people that I have visited in each country.

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