Paris, 16 April 2007

EFITA newsletter / 305 / European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment

Next AgriMMedia seminar
15 May – PARIS
New web tools: blog, RSS, wiki, podcast, video on the Internet, web TV, web conference… (in French).

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The web site European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture (EFITA) ( is listed by the CIRS-TM.ORG, the International Center for Scientific Research (CIRS) web site.
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European Association for Animal Production (EAAP) congress
26 – 29 August - DUBLIN

Innovative farmers are going to save the Dutch countryside
Saturday 27th of January 2007 – Farmers – A new type of farmer is quietly changing the countryside. The farmer has become a social entrepreneur, who opens up his farm to others and enhances the rural economy. Let’s give these farmers a free rein.

It is striking that innovative farmers feature so prominently in the SCP report entitled ‘Investing in potential’. According to the Central Planning Bureau these trendsetters in the agricultural sector serve as inspiring examples of a series of positive and potentially successful developments in Dutch society. They play a key role in the future of the countryside. It is all about care farms, recreation, education and nature conservation farmers producing social values.
Within this group there are the so-called interactive farmers who take the concept one step further by allowing motivated citizens to participate in their farms. New initiatives such as community farms, farmer-consumer links, urban/rural arrangements and adoption of animals and trees strengthen the interaction between farmer and citizen. All this enhances the regional economy.

To a certain extent these new farmers go back in history. Traditionally, farmers played a special role in villages and small market towns. Farms were often places where you could buy milk, meat and potatoes, where children used to play, where adults spent their holidays and where people who did not easily fit in could find a job. Farmers and citizens talked about animals and discussed rural matters. They shared the ups and downs of the country. But the modernisation of the agricultural sector resulted in a strict segregation. The farmers started to focus on production, often for overseas markets, and at the same time the citizens looked to the urban supermarkets for their commodities. The decline in the number of farmers led to fewer people visiting farms.
With this divide a lot was lost. Many people have become alienated from food, nature, animal husbandry and their own environment.
 At the same time an increasing number of citizens want to go back to their roots. The unprecedented popularity of the Dutch television programme ‘Farmer looking for a wife’ confirms this trend.
Many farmers got the message. They realise that the country has a unique lead in terms of health care, quality of life and even the identity of citizens. Life in the country is simply better than in the city.

As a result of this trend thousands of care, nature conservation, recreational and educational farms have been established over the last few years. This ‘first generation’ wants to pass on their experience to an even larger group of farmers who can’t wait to walk the same innovative road too.

Research has shown that fifteen to twenty thousand farmers would like to start out as social entrepreneurs. That is an incredible chance for the Dutch countryside and for society as a whole. Especially the care farms could become a fast growing sector.

But success does not come about just like that. Opportunities need to be exploited. This calls for more motivated citizens and organisations, and perhaps even more importantly, managers with courage and a vision. ‘The Versatile Countryside Manifesto’ wants to unite forces by joining all the initiatives of the pioneers of the ‘first generation’. From 1 January the provinces are responsible for rural policy. This implies a more active commitment. Hence it is encouraging to see that several provinces rate their citizens’ views. Recent inquiries in the provinces of Brabant, Limburg, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijsel have shown that people greatly value the countryside. Moreover, citizens rely on farmers to act as good guardians of the countryside. That is why they think that farmers should be given more room to manoeuvre. This is an important starting point for provincial politicians. It is time to invest in the social added value of the countryside. The new farmers prove that there is huge potential.

Source: Ir Jan Huijgen is one of the founders of ‘The Versatile Countryside Manifesto’. Dr. Tjirk van der Ziel is a rural sociologist.

Information provided by Jules BONGERS
E-mail : j.bongers(a)

Golf at farm: an amazing and successful project!
Contact: Jules BONGERS
E-mail : j.bongers(a)

Un cura y un rabino en Paris... (excellent Jewish joke in Spanish – use Google to translate it)
Un cura le dice a su amigo rabino:
 - Tengo un truco para comer gratis
 - Super! Contame como hacés
 - Voy al restaurant, bastante tarde, pido una entrada, plato principal, quesos, postre y me tomo todo mi tiempo para tomarme un café,  un cognac y un buen cigarro y espero a que cierren. Como ni me muevo, cuando ya levantaron todas las mesas, dieron vuelta las sillas sobre las mesas para barrer, viene el mozo a preguntarme si le puedo ir pagando porque ya se
van, entonces le respondo: "Pero si ya le pagué a su colega que se fue antes".
Es así de simple.
El rabino entonces le dice: qué genial, probamos juntos mañana?
 - ok, le contesta el cura.
 La noche siguiente los dos compadres van al restaurant: entrada, plato principal, quesos, postre, etc.

 Llega el momento de cerrar, se acerca el mozo, les pregunta si les puede cobrar y el cura le dice:
 - Lo siento, pero ya le pagamos a tu colega que ya se fue
 Y el rabino agrega:
- Estamos desde hace rato esperando el cambio!
Contact : I. KITRON
E-mail: kitron1(a)

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