Report Synopsis

What role can the farmer's partner play in their business and the agricultural sector, in times of high societal pressure and a rapidly changing world?

Heleen Lansink - Marissen

What role can the farmer's partner play in their business and the agricultural sector, in times of high societal pressure and a rapidly changing world?

Heleen Lansink - Marissen 2019 Nsch

My major findings are the following:

1. The current situation requires change The challenges facing the agricultural sector are enormous. Loss of biodiversity, income under pressure, nitrogen emissions, ageing of the sector, short supply chains, energy transition - just a few of the challenges. I am convinced that as a sector, we cannot solve the challenges alone; we need society to do so. I see a heavily polarised agricultural debate and it seems as if the gap between farmer and society is only widening. This does not work well when, as mentioned above, we need society to work together on all the tasks at hand.

2. The farmer's partner can play a role in this Especially in times of great change, the role of the partner of the farmer is extremely valuable. Because the partner is often educated outside the sector, he or she can look outside the agricultural bubble. The farmer's wife often has a job outside the home, is often the one who gets the groceries, and (still) takes care of the children the most. She has gained skills outside the agricultural sector that are very welcome in the agricultural sector. The woman is the key person in the agricultural sector, she is the one we need so badly to connect the agricultural sector to that society.

3. A lot of potential and (wo)manpower in the partner There is a lot of potential in the aforementioned qualities and skills of women. Especially in the dialogue that we need to have with society, it is good to use women for that purpose; just going out with the tractor to block society does not create much goodwill. We will really have to work it out together. This social innovation has long been a neglected child in the agricultural sector. We have not been very good at telling our story, but we cannot do without it. Because we do not know how to capitalise the potential of the farmer's wife, there is still 50% potential that we can use for the sector. The farmer's wife is not known for her skills within the agricultural sector.

4. This potential still needs to be brought out There should be more investment in this untapped potential; it will not only bring more diversity and creativity, but also more business. It makes (dairy) cattle farming more inclusive. The rapidly changing world and the challenges we are facing call for a new kind of entrepreneurship. The more diverse the system, the better the solutions and the more resilient the system. Too often, you see that the agricultural sector is still a huge man's ball. It is a shame not to use the potential that the farmer's wife has in the farmyard for the agricultural sector.
5. To do this, we need programmes specifically for the farmer's partner. The farmer's partner is not recognised as a 'newcomer' to the sector. And therefore, not seen as a specific target group. By recognising this target group, you can also make targeted programmes for them. One of the most inspiring examples I have seen during my travels is the Escalator programme in New Zealand. Every year, 10 to 15 women are admitted to this programme, where the ladies follow a year-long programme. They work on increasing their individual potential, leadership, policy, strategy and finance, communication, media training and career guidance. It is an inspiring example that we can use immediately.

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