20% drop in the number of farms in the EU between 2003 and 2010 !
The bloodletting continues, without treating the patient nor attracting young people. The CAP 2014-2020 proposal doesn’t address the issue. To ensure that farming jobs are attractive, you need fair farming prices, income prospects and the recognition of small-scale farming work.
How much longer will the neoliberal CAP carry on killing sustainable family farming and depleting the countryside? The last census published by Eurostat is alarming: the EU has lost 3 million farms in just eight years.
The drop is particularly large in certain Central European and Baltic states, such as Estonia (47%). The concentration of farms has been encouraged by per ha or historical CAP payments, without ceiling, by farming prices often situated below production costs, by industrial norms non-adapted to small-scale farming, and by the cumbersomeness of administrative obligations. This concentration has excluded many famers, both men and women, from the profession and market, and has closed vistas for numerous young people hoping to set up shop.
Today, many rural and urban young people want to become farmers, i.e., food producers who will help feed the population, rather than producers of raw materials to feed the industry and large-scale distribution. However, a large number of them are excluded from programmes that are meant to help people set themselves up, because their projects do not fit into official plans drawn up in the 20th c. And yet, the process of industrialisation/concentration is a thing of the past: the days when you produced increasingly more with increasingly fewer farmers are gone, as they do not address the environmental, social and territorial challenges of today’s Europe.
In this sense the European Commission’s proposal for a new CAP is already dated and will only lead European farming and food production straight into a wall.
You do not need fewer, but more farmers. The idea that farming structures must be increasingly large, that “restructuring” is required, and that there is always an economy of scale, is a simplistic economic outlook that does not take into account the many costs – social, environmental, and to public health – which are generally passed onto tax payers and citizens.
What is required is not the freezing of existing structures, resulting from 50 years of industrialisation and concentration of farms, but a reversal of the current ageing tendency among farmers through farming policies that stimulate new arrivals with favourable economic, land and social prospects.
Large cereal farms, that have often grown thanks to the CAP budget provided by European tax payers, have created human deserts in the vast cereal plains. Do they keep the countryside alive?
Large animal factory farms, whose negative externalities are reported on day in, day out, have concentrated production in a few European regions, without providing quality food for European consumers. Why maintain them any longer?
Following industrialization of agriculture and restructuration of farms, it is time for sustainable family farming, the type of farming that institutions usually show off in promotional films for the CAP. And yet, the suggested CAP reform does not move in that direction.
Time for Outrage! Let’s stand up for another CAP!
Geneviève Savigny (FR-EN) +33 625551687 – Javier Sanchez (ES) +34 609 35 93 80
Gérard Choplin, Bxl team (FR-EN-DE) +32 473257378 Marzia Rezzin, Bxl team (IT-FR-EN) + 32 473 300 156