The popular image of chickens and eggs is not always fair or realistic. Lots of people like to talk about the subject without telling the full story, and sometimes their version is simply wrong. This is often disturbing. It is also upsetting to find that our youth is getting incorrect information from teachers, who are often misinformed too. This presents a challenge for the sector.

Chickens have been domesticated for thousands of years and provide very healthy products, which of course includes eggs and meat. During my youth – and that was quite some time ago now – more than 20% of the Dutch were directly involved in agriculture but it is less than 1% nowadays. Everyone used to speak positively about agriculture, including the educators. But now people lack correct information, and agriculture is shown in a bad light. Yet it is often the case that the animals are healthier nowadays and the products even better and, above all, there is much more food-safety. Animal welfare has also improved enormously – there are no more hens in batteries, and free-range houses with optimum climate control have replaced them. There has been a lot of change in other sectors too, e.g. traditional cow stalls have been replaced with cubicle housing with milking robots.

For many tens of thousands of years, eggs and poultry meat have been part of a healthy diet for humans. But agriculture is now a lot more distant from the consumer. My goal is to inform consumers better, and do that by starting with the children. I would like to see us arousing interest in these topics among children so that they become more involved, with the aim that eventually poultry farmers and their suppliers will be seen more as honest and caring producers.

I am mulling over the idea of creating a nice transparent and informative booklet for primary school students aged 10-12. It should communicate a clear, unbiased story about the entire poultry farming process. Agriculture is not an island, and that’s why we are working on the idea of a nice illustrative book combining text with lots of drawings and photos that will appeal to young people – a book realized by all kinds of groups brought together so that we can discuss the desired content with them, e.g. people from research and education, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the poultry farming industry and animal protection organizations.

I am going to commit myself to realizing this in 2019.

Whoever wants to join in the project is welcome to contact me!

Piet Simons

Ambassador for the poultry sector

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