Blind Spot for Pioneering Farmers? Reflections on Dutch Dairy Sustainability Transition

Hoes, Anne Charlotte; Aramyan, Lusine


This study explores the questions of how to govern the transition towards sustainable farming in a responsible and inclusive manner by exploring the Dutch dairy case. Sustainability transition is about fundamental social–technical changes to address the grand challenges that society faces today. It includes breaking down and phasing out unsustainable practice as well as scaling up sustainable alternatives. Transition literature argues that governments should implement a mix of transition tasks to give direction, support the new and destabilase the unsustainable. In addition, market-based instruments (MBIs) and policy interventions rewarding sustainable farming stimulate transition. This study illustrates that strong and prolonged pressure of not meeting international environmental agreements triggered the implementation of stronger policy interventions that destabilize the unsustainable. However, less policy attention seems to be given to supporting the “new”, such as pioneering alternative farmers who develop sustainable alternatives to mainstream farming. To achieve more responsible and inclusive sustainability transitions, it is important to implement tailor-made policies that support pioneering alternative farmers who are already taking steps in developing sustainable farms which, in addition to food, provide ecological and other benefits to community.