Citizens and animal farming… an ongoing debate…

Over the last years I’ve been studying the socio-cultural sustainability of animal farming by looking at citizen perceptions in the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark of  two farming systems; dairy and pig production (see former blogs). The debate is ongoing and I am happy to see that an increasing number of researchers are actively involved in this field.

However,  I’ll be moving into another – also very interesting – field… also animal farming… also sustainability, but this time in Mozambique and smallholder goat production.  Hence, this is my final blog for Rural Sociology. From the 15th of June I’ll be working as post doctoral researcher for the International Livestock Research Institute ( in Africa and India.

For those of you interested in the field of citizens and animal farming in Western societies,  below is a list of my publications, including two recently published papers. One paper includes the results of pig farm visits (see former blog), the other is a very compact review paper of my PhD thesis, only 9 pages…. Two other papers are published in open access journals, so I’ve included the link to the full paper for you. You’re free to use them (with correct reference of course) 🙂  

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Students, Broilers and Sustainability

Last week about 60 Msc students followed a week on socio-cultural sustainability of organic production chains, as part of the course ‘Analysis and Management of Sustainable Organic Production Chains’. Each week of the course focused on a specific component of sustainability (consumer, socio-cultural, environmental, economic), given by a different chair group. Last  week was under supervision and teaching of our Rural Sociology group.The lectures and assignments focused on socio-cultural sustainability and discussed chain perception from a societal point of view and the context dependency of indicators for socio-cultural sustainability.

During the course, the students worked in multidisciplinary and multicultural groups of 6 students. Each group represented a stakeholder in the broiler production chain (e.g. fodder company, farmers, retailers, animal welfare organization, slaughterhouse). Of the 60 students, only 1 student had a background in sociology. Others were involved in economics, agronomy or other natural-science based disciplines. Consequently, it was challenging for many of the students to change their way of thinking and reasoning to a more sociological mindset.  Moreover, one week is extremely short to do this. This resulted in hard working students and heated debates among group members.

By the end of the week, the students were requested to  – on the basis of earlier assignments that week – come up with actions that would make the broiler production chain more socio-cultural sustainable  from their stakeholder perspective. Several groups raised suggestions  like shorter production chains, more regional production and stronger embeddedness in the region. Although these themes were not explicitly tackled during this week, I was happy to hear these suggestions, because our Rural Sociology group is engaged in such themes.  

Overall, it was a week of hard working – for the students as well as the teacher 😉 – but when I look back, it makes me happy that the students themselves came up with interesting and creative ideas in just one week!

Verbinding met burgers

Er zijn steeds meer initiatieven om ‘boeren en burgers’ weer met elkaar in contact te brengen, maar dat blijkt nog niet zo eenvoudig. De laatste editie van syscope gaat dan ook over ‘Verbinding met burgers’, waarin allerlei projecten (uitgevoerd in opdracht van het ministerie van LNV) staan beschreven  die hier op een of andere wijze bijdragen aan ‘verbinding’ met de maatschappij.

De actualiteit van de verbinding tussen veehouderij en maatschappij komt ook in de huidige gemeenteraadsverkiezingen naar voren. Zo besteedde Een Vandaag gister aandacht aan de discussie rondom megastallen in Vroomshoop. De variatie aan reacties op de site laten zien dat er veel verschillende argumenten en emoties rondom dit onderwerp spelen en illusteren daarmee mooi de complexiteit van de verbinding tussen ‘boeren en burgers’.