‘Het moet anders’ (time to change) is a sentence photographer Hans van der Meer has heard more than once during his visits to farmers throughout the Netherlands. With his latest book and exhibition Van der Meer shows us the remarkable world of dairy farming. Time to Change offers a fascinating insight into the lives of cows and the changing countryside, while at the same time questioning the industry’s current state and future.
Over the past few decades, the gap between the consumer and the world of the cow has been growing and growing. Hans van der Meer lives in the centre of Amsterdam, but when his farmer friend Jaap Hemke goes on holiday, Hans looks after the farm. He has been doing this for nearly twenty years, stimulating a deep interest and a particular insight into dairy farming. Through photography, film and writing Van der Meer examines the world around him. In Time to Change he is looking at and thinking about cows and consequently dairy farming, animal welfare, hi-tech food production and its impact on the environment. Van der Meer’s pictures are the trigger for a series of observations highlighting the complexity of modern farming. In addition, he asked farmers and innovators the question how to continue and in which direction. In many of the photos the cow looks puzzled. Or is it that she’s questioning us? How will we be shaping the future in food production? And what will the role of the animals be in it?