On Monday October 8, Pakhuis de Zwijger and Paradox welcome you to a debate about the changing world of the Dutch cow (language: Dutch). Speakers include photographer Hans van der Meer, dairy farmer Siem de Boer, organic farmer Sjaak Hoogendoorn and Carel de Vries, director of Courage – platform for innovative dairy farming.
How does the government’s new strategy for agriculture impact regional dairy farming? The Dutch love dairy – supermarkets are packed with dairy products from ‘happy Dutch cows in green pastures’. But how does this fit in with a sustainable diet? Sometimes environmental concerns are at odds with animal welfare. We demand more milk per cow to limit CO2 emissions, whilst meeting consumers’ needs. At the same time this increased production takes its toll on the animals. During this event, various stakeholders discuss the current state and future of dairy farming from the viewpoint of the cow.
New strategy for agriculture
Last Month, the Dutch minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Carola Schouten presented a new agricultural vision. Farmers are required to switch to a more sustainable model of circular farming, using less raw materials. How does this strategy impact both the dairy farming industry and consumers?
Time to Change
In Time to Change photographer Hans van der Meer looks at the changing world of the Dutch cow. In the past three years, he visited dairy farmers and innovators throughout the Netherlands. His work reflects on the complexity of modern farming, animal welfare, hi-tech food production and its impact on the environment. In many of the photos the cow looks puzzled. Or is it that she’s questioning us? How will we be shaping the future in food production? And what will the role of the animals be in it?
‘Het moet anders’ (time to change) is a sentence photographer Hans van der Meer has heard more than once during his visits to farmers throughout the Netherlands. With his latest book and exhibition Van der Meer shows us the remarkable world of dairy farming. Time to Changeoffers a fascinating insight into the lives of cows and the changing countryside, while at the same time questioning the industry’s current state and future.
A few years ago, the Netherlands Fotomuseum invited Hans van der Meer to create a photo series inspired by Cas Oorthuys’ book Rundvee (1948) in their collection. This triggered the project Time to Change. In 2016, a preview of the project was shown at the Fries Museum, accompanied by a series of columns in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. The exhibition and newspaper series both included texts and photographs by Van der Meer, addressing issues like permaculture, health issues and milk production.
The exhibition is currently on show at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar (until 28 October). The book is now available in specialised book shops and in the YdocStore webshop (language: Dutch and English, price: €34.50)
In addition to photographs and texts, Van der Meer made a series of short films. The video below shows the process of hoof and claw cutting with a special machine, a necessary task to keep the cow’s hoofs healthy. It was done by hand for a long time, technological progress increased productivity.
Time to Change is on show until 28 October at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar. The accompanying book (Dutch/English) is available in the YdocStore. After the debate at Pakhuis de Zwijger, there’s a book signing session with Van der Meer.