WUR as ‘supplier of evidence’ in livestock farming discussion

The new director of the Animal Sciences Group calls for a broader-based discussion.
Photo: Jeroen Dijkman

There is one issue on which Jeroen Dijkman, newly appointed director of the Animal Sciences Group (ASG) as of 1 September, will take a completely different approach than his predecessor Martin Scholten. There are to be new posters in the director’s office in Zodiac. Mick Jagger will accompany Scholten to his new office. What images will grace the walls? ‘Perhaps a view of the Earth from space. To underline the fact that there is, in as far as we know, only one.’

Dijkman worked for the world food organisation FAO for many years, in the field of food systems. ‘I consider developing sustainable agro-food systems as the biggest challenge humanity faces. This includes everything, from alleviating poverty to fighting climate change, and from preventing zoonoses to improving biodiversity.’

Trusted advisor

According to the new ASG director, the contribution of livestock farming to food systems may be both positive and negative. ‘There are many opinions and emotions. WUR can contribute to the discussions on this issue by providing expertise and information on scenarios and options. In doing so, we must consider that possibilities and priorities will vary strongly in different regions and countries, depending on their economy, climate and eating habits.’

I consider developing sustainable agro-food systems as the biggest challenge humanity faces

Jeroen Dijkman, director Animal Sciences Group

Dijkman hopes the discussion on livestock farming in the Netherlands will be extended to encompass the role of agriculture in the Netherlands and to include all stakeholders, including retailers and consumers.  ‘What are the different options we have and how do they affect the environment, farmers’ incomes, food prices and the countryside? WUR can play a vital role in these considerations as a trusted advisor and as a supplier of evidence.’

A prerequisite is that WUR provides integral guidelines, Dijkerman states. ‘I believe that one of my responsibilities as ASG director is to listen to the 1200 employees and to discover how we may work together with partners within and outside of WUR to further contribute to the development of sustainable agro-food systems in the Netherlands, Europe and the world. WUR harbours all the aspects of agro-food systems, and as such, has an excellent starting point to reach real results in the domain of sustainability.’

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