‘Young farmers should not give up too quickly’ – Interview Ruben Klein Teeselink

Interview Ruben Klein Teeselink

Today at 07:00

Ruben Klein Teeselink is the new portfolio holder for dairy production at NAJK. He is thus following in the footsteps of Marije Klever, who has held this role for the past 4 years. As a young farmer, he is an optimist, but then there must be room for entrepreneurs. The nitrogen dossier currently dominates, according to Klein Teeselink, the other challenges should not be forgotten. “Land boundary may be more challenging than nitrogen for dairy production in some provinces.”

Congratulations on your appointment, you could say you are joining in turbulent times…
“Thank you. These are really challenging times, but also a good moment to step into. I see it primarily as an opportunity. At first I was a little hesitant to take on this role, but within NAJK we operate with the whole team So I is not alone, and that gives confidence.”

Many young farmers give up or have serious doubts. Not you. What possibilities do you see?
“First of all, I have many ties to our home business. I am the sixth generation and proud to be able to continue this. In addition, I definitely also see opportunities. Young entrepreneurs should not give up too quickly. The world’s population is growing and with it the demand for healthy food. the many stops will hopefully create more entrepreneurial space for those who stay. And for the farmer’s position in the market, the current annual natural decline of the Dutch livestock herd is not bad either. As long as it is not a forced acquisition, because I am opposed to that transfer .”

Ruben Klein Teeselink

Ruben Klein Teeselink (22 years old) runs a dairy farm in Holten in Overijssel with his parents. They milk around 100 cows, have 50 young animals and work 50 hectares of land. The milk goes to FrieslandCampina. Last summer he completed his bachelor’s degree in agricultural entrepreneurship livestock and livestock farming at the Agrarisch Hogeschool in Dronten.

You make a point there. How do you stand in the overheated nitrogen debate?
“The aim is to preserve as much space as possible for the entrepreneurial perspective. Personally, I prefer to talk to the politicians, but the limit has now been reached. The sector has made plans, but the gauntlet has not been taken up. Hopefully the impasse will soon be broken. We are now awaiting the answers from broker Johan Remkes. We ourselves cultivate 1.6 kilometers from a Natura 2000 area, so it certainly makes us think. But there are more problems than nitrogen.”

Take, for example, the requirements for soil conditions. In provinces such as Overijssel, Gelderland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg, it is perhaps a bigger problem for milk production than nitrogen. There is a need for clarity through a long-term vision. I think 15 to 20 years ahead, so you can base the funding on that. The fact that we do not yet know whether the exemption expires this year is very frustrating and creates a lot of uncertainty. We also now have to work with future dilemmas such as water quality, methane emissions, CAP policy and land-related matters. All that still awaits in the coming years. The goals are often fixed, but it is not clear how we will get there. That’s what I want in my new role.”

What solutions are you thinking of?
“For cooperation. First of all to work together as a dairy sector, but also to make good use of the entrepreneurial space. The problems must and can be solved on a national level, for example by linking livestock farmers to arable farmers in the sale of manure. Land-related issues can be tackled by redistributing places nationally. In Friesland, for example, many companies are land-based, but not here in Overijssel.”

Do you finally have faith that this cabinet will come up with solutions?
Let me put it this way: There is too much politics in the current cabinet. Not only in the nitrogen policy, but I am also thinking about the problems surrounding the quota affair, gas drilling and the migration crisis, which are now playing out again. It doesn’t solve the problems.”


Wouter Baan

Wouter Baan is the editor of Boerenbusiness and focuses on the dairy, pig and meat markets. He also follows (business) developments in agribusiness and he interviews CEOs and policy makers.

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