20 Wellant learners went to Brittany in France last March to gain new insights into their field and to work on their English and intercultural skills.
During the study week, the pupils visited ISSAT - Lycée du Pays de Redon, a partner school of Wellantcollege. In addition, they have visited five farms, including a modern dairy farm with milking robots, automatic feeding system, manure fermentation and a large water basin. For many learners it was the first time they saw a manure digester and water basin of this size. They also visited an organic company with 100% grass and herb rations. Special in our eyes: thanks to the French climate, the cows usually spend 9 months a year in the pasture.
Both in the Netherlands and in France it is important that future farmers have learned to think about possibilities for additional income, such as processing the milk into cheese or ice cream themselves, the focus on (exclusive) regional products, or offering care, childcare or agritourism.
In the Netherlands the land price is 15 times as high as in France, while the (low) milk price is the same. French farmers seem a bit less precise and more relaxed than Dutch farmers, who have to produce more per hectare of land. Because French farmers generally have lower fixed costs, they can handle the changing demand for milk more flexibly. Another difference with Dutch dairy farming is that cooperative agriculture, where farmers collectively purchase good machines, is common in France.
Our Wellant learners got along well with their French peers and have spoken a lot of English together. They found it fun, interesting, they have seen many new things and they have discovered that dairy farming in France is also innovative. The visit to one of the landing beaches in Normandy has also made an impression; some pupils had never heard of this before.
In June, the French learners will visit the Netherlands for four weeks, including one week at Wellantcollege. During this week we will discuss in greater depth what the Dutch and French dairy farming can learn from each other.
The exchange has been made possible by the European subsidy program Erasmus +.