‘Here I am in the enormous European powerhouse of ministers, commissioners and Members of the European Parliament. I feel slightly uncomfortable walking around here. I managed to wangle my way into this position with a ‘get on with the job’ mentality. Don’t be too scared. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
As the son of a Twente farmer, I am in my element in the agriculture sector. And as a student on two Master’s programmes, having previously studied veterinary medicine in Ghent, and at the applied sciences university in Leeuwarden, I think I have enough agricultural knowledge. My main interest is in future perceptions and experience of food, better known as the international food supply issue.
I had started writing my major thesis on policy limitations on food waste, and there were links with Europe. I could think of no better place to develop further professionally. In my view there is a shortage of plain common sense around here.
My task is to document the impact of the shrinking EU budget for the Common Agricultural Policy on Dutch dairy farmers. I have to do this by “operating freely”: not being afraid to jump in at the deep end without knowing where I’ll end up. I am looking at different levels in the agriculture chain: producers, lobbyists, policymakers, ministers and MEPs. I find it very interesting to talk to all these different people, because I learn something from them all. It really is a unique opportunity. I get to spend six months in the Champions League of the agricultural world.
The craziest experience so far has been the notorious mass migration of the entire parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg. Voting takes place there every month on dossiers people have been working on for months. The atmosphere was indescribable, because they are talking there about European policy, so it concerns billions of euros.’