Mansholt: Farming Europe. Exhibition until 5 March 2016

Published on
September 1, 2015

Exhibition from Special Collections on Sicco Mansholt, the former Dutch Minister of Agriculture, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and the President of the European Commission.

Immediately after the Second World War, Sicco Mansholt (1908-1995) was appointed the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Netherlands lay in ruins and was suffering from a severe food shortage. Vowing to prevent another famine, Mansholt devised a policy that created an unprecedented expansion of agriculture. Under Mansholt, the Dutch landscape of small farms became one of the world’s most innovative and productive agricultural sectors.

Mansholt wanted to feed the world and became a founder of Dutch development aid and of the European Economic Community (EEC). He believed Europe-wide cooperation was needed to secure the global food supply. As the EEC’s first agriculture commissioner, he succeeded in implementing a common agricultural policy, which he viewed as the engine of European integration.

But the success also had a downside. By the 1960s food surpluses began to appear. Mansholt was the first person to recognise this, and tried, in vain, to correct it. Inspired by the recommendations of the Club of Rome in 1971, Mansholt argued for reforms that were at odds with expansion. Still to this day, the global food debate is dominated by the conflict between small- and large-scale farming.

The exhibition on Mansholt explores his influential family and his agricultural background and beliefs, and the influences of his policies on the Dutch landscape.

Concept and text were based on the exhibition 'Sicco Mansholt, Een goede Europeaan'. This exhibition was composed by Het Nieuwe Instituut (31 August - 9 November 2014).

Mansholt, farming Europe is open from Thursday 10 September 2015 to Friday 5 March 2016. Monday to Friday, 9 am to 1 pm, and in the afternoon by appointment with Special Collections.