F1: Cooperative movement

(The Danish way of handling challenges)

Time: Programme:
10:00 am Departure from Vingsted.
En route during the day a journey from 1813 to 2050 – History and back ground for The Danish Food Cluster of today and tomorrow.

See below  1)

10:50 Sejet Plant Breeding, farmer owned station at the seaside close to Horsens: Newest DNA technologies, from cross to final product. According to FAO we worldwide shall increase the total yield of crops by 70 percent before 2050. How do we do that? Before leaving sandwich-lunch and refreshments.

New barley variety at Sejet and manager Birger Eriksen

12:30 pm Departure
1.30 pm Arrival at Arla Foods Innovation Center in Skejby close to Aarhus.

Dairy farmer Jan Toft Nørgaard, chairman for the Arla Foods Group, will explain about  the multinational coop – also when it comes to ownership and member democracy  between farmers in seven countries speaking different languages.

Arla is the seven biggest and third biggest dairy coop in the World – owned and run by farmers in seven countries. Arla holds 90 pct. of the Danish milk production, 27 smaller dairies the remaining 10 percent. Chairman for The Arla Group, dairy farmer Jan Toft Nørgaard will tell about the challenges running a member democracy among 10.000 farmers in seven countries speaking different languages. He can himself run meetings in Danish, Swedish, German and English. Jan is eager to answer questions. After a coffee brake we’ll take a round at the center and learn about dairy products of tomorrow.

3:45 pm Departure
4:30 pm Arrival at Holger Hedelund Poulsen’s ”mountain” farm south of Skanderborg, at least the highest altitude for any farm in Denmark, 171 meter above sea level.

Denmarks mountain- and dairy farmer, innovator Holger Hedelund Poulsen plus one helper has 25-doubled the production since 1974.

Holger took over from his parents a 15 hectar farm I 1974, began with 17 dairy cows and one employed. Today he farms 250 hectars, has 200 cows and a 25 doubled production – and still has one employed. He is a big exporter of breeding heifers, and he is always thinking about meeting challenges. As a member of the Arla board of representatives he proposed the soy oil in LURPAK spreadable replaced by Danish canola oil. Now his goal is to replace imported protein from the feed with own grown beans and canola. After a few years he has reached 80 percent of the goal.

6:00 pm Departure
6.30 pm Arrival at the Cultural Center Vestermølle at the eastside of Skanderborg Lake.

The Cultural Center Vestermølle (Foto: Claus Haagensen)

A quickly guided tour of the 500 years old, since 2010 totally renovated farm. Have a glass of water from the holy well. Chris Mortensen – born here in 1882 died in California in 1998 at the age of 115 years and 252 days – claiming, that the Vestermølle-water gave him spirit for a long life. Don’t drink, if you have a lousy pension-account!
Before having dinner in the old barn we will experience the old water driven mill making Denmark’s best full grain flour – according to the University of Copenhagen.

8:45 pm Departure
9:45 pm Arrival at Vingsted. The bar will be open.


Jørgen Lund Christiansen, journalist, organizer of several study tours to six continents, participant in 20 IFAJ congresses. columnist.

Henning Otte Hansen, Senior advisor, PhD, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen


1813: Denmark as a state went bankrupt. The answer: OK, we are pure, we shall not also be dum! By law it became mandatory for all children to be educated.

1844: The first Folk High School opened. Youngsters from rural areas took half a year of, lived at the schools, studied Danish language, mathematics, national and world history etc. Many went home and became inspirators in their local societies.

1849: The King stepped some steps down. We got a relatively free constitution.

1864: Denmark lost a war and one third of its land to Germany. The answer was to cultivate huge more areas in Jutland: What we lost, must be taken back at home. (After World War One the northern part of the lost land “went Home” after a referendum.)

Farmer owned DLF Seeds holds about on third of the World market for grass and clower seed and are still based on the ideas from Anders Nielsen – 1859 – 1928

1870 and decades forward: Due to American railways and steam ships Northern Europe was overflown with cheap grain from the US prairies. Danish and Swedish farmers formed the World’s first ag coops -dairies from 1881/82, farm supply cooperatives from 1883 and slaughter houses from 1887. 20 years later Denmark had 1.300 dairy coops – and LURPAK, a similar number of farm supply coops and dozens of farmer owned slaughter houses – and DANISH PORK. UK became the first major market. Coops for clower and grass seed, production of cement, fur, potatoes and banks followed. Talking about dairy, pork, poultry, seed, potatoes and fur the famer owned companies today hold market shares all together of about 90 percent. The producers take the profit, not shareholders. The coop history’s main figure is Anders Nielsen. Come with us and hear about him and his wife Kirstine and more than 200.000 farms at their time.

Today: Less than 10.000 full time farmers produce high quality food for close to 20 million people. 75 percent is exported. The hundreds of local coops have merged into huge companies, many of them working internationally. They still meet challenges with innovation.

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