Just approved: Koonstra Partnership

Frisian dairy farmer, Doi Konstra, wanted to switch for some time, but was unable to find a buyer. He has now found a dairy that has recently started providing him with organic milk. Now some extra land. “Because closed business operations and closed cycle are the best.”

Doi Konstra’s grandfather started out as a laborer for other farmers, but he worked himself on an old, dilapidated farm full of blood, sweat, tears and little luck to become a farmer, Doi says. “Since the farm was in poor condition, my grandfather had been looking for another farm for a while. After World War II, a project was set up near Broeksterwald while collecting land where a piece of bog was raised to make farmland. Space was created for three new farms. My grandfather really wanted to go there, but his farm was too small to participate in the aggregation of land. Because there was not enough enthusiasm to build the third new farm, the mayor at the time decided to give it to my grandfather.” Grandfather Konstra started with pigs and then cows. It is now a dairy farm with 65 cows. “It’s well organized,” Doi says. He runs Maatschap Koornstra with his parents Wytse and Marja Koonstra. “We really do it with the three of us. We do almost everything ourselves. In this regard, we are completely self-sufficient. The best thing is that you can take care of yourself and have enough food for your animals.”

grazing small cattle
Last March, the country signed up with Skal, and the switch will take two years. Cows were registered with Skal in February 2022. Organic milk can be provided after six months and meat after a year. Under certain conditions, milk may be delivered a little earlier. “We bought additional bales of organic feed, which allowed us to push history forward a bit. And my forage supplier is very skilled at this switch. He calculated how many additional bales we would need to buy so we could switch a little earlier. This is a complicated matter.”

However, he was reasonably well prepared for what would happen to them. “You have to abide by a lot of rules, but our business operations were really in an organic direction, so it wasn’t a big move.”

The big change is that they are now tending small animals. “In the past we had bad experiences with that: the animals that were rushing through the ditch broke out. We have now set up a special corner where we train the animals first. They can first fly well and know they can’t go through the ditch and walk around with the neighbor in the country.”

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They rarely used antibiotics and fertilizers. “Now that we have not used fertilizers at all and are no longer an exception, it has reduced the yield from the land, especially now with the addition of drought. So I have to buy more silage bales. It takes a while before the soil settles. It adjusts.” He believes that working as an organic farmer is better. “Working with nature is so much more fun than keeping the cows in the barn and extracting as much milk as possible from them. That was nothing.”

He actually wanted to switch earlier, but their dairy products didn’t have a place for organic farmers. “There was a waiting list of 70 cultivators who wanted to switch. Then I thought, then I don’t even have to think about it.” According to him, the fact that there is no space for dairy products has something to do with demand. “They should be sold. More and more people are starting to realize that we have to move towards organic products, but consumers still often still choose the cheaper alternative.”

He believes that if everyone starts buying organic produce tomorrow, all farmers will convert. “It’s very simple, but that’s how it goes. What is being sold is made. I don’t think it will work the other way around. In France, they tried to make 20 percent of farmers organic. They supported that at the time, but there was no market for it. Then you can You want to have organic products, but they have to be sold.”

Course
Doi looks to the future with confidence. Switching is a great investment, but they are fortunate that the current price this year is close to the organic price. “So far, we can handle everything ourselves, without outside funders. In fact, we don’t have enough land yet, I’m still looking for it. Private land is the best. Then you have a nice closed project and you can close the cycle. Now we can Doing this by collaborating with an organic farmer in the area we can buy fodder from.”

He dreamed of milking 120 cows and building a beautiful new barn. “But I also figured at the time: If everyone is going to do that, it can be very difficult to tie it in. If you don’t have enough land and you have to buy your own fodder and everyone has to buy fodder, then the price will of course be higher and then no longer It’s possible to do the math. Looking back, I’m glad we didn’t.”

To everyone who is also considering switching, he says: Find a buyer and go for it! “You can think of a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t, but if your gut says, ‘I want this,’ you should do it.”

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Source: Skal

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