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Small Farmers, Big Solutions Photo Campaign

21 September 2020

Find all contribution of our members to our photo campaign Small Farmers, Big Solutions here. Discover our member's views on the CAP and how it can help family farmers.

Federico Pacheco - Andalusia - SOC-SAT

    I live in the mountains of southeastern Andalusia, in an agroecological project, and I have been committed to the rights of rural workers and migrants for thirty years. I can say that in all this time, labour and social conditions have not improved, and in many aspects the levels of illegal and legal exploitation have deepened. Administrative checks are still not sufficient and the social certifications used by the sellers are nothing more than window-dressing. Only organisation, struggle and perseverance from the workers themselves, articulated in organisations such as our union SOC-SAT and supported by international allies, have managed to achieve specific improvements in certain companies or regions, and to uphold, above all, the push for dignity and unity in the defence of their rights.   Andalusian agriculture, as in the rest of Europe, would not be possible without the work of local and immigrant day labourers, with and without papers, as the current health crisis has clearly shown. The CAP has served to further strengthen large agribusinesses, many of whom are large corporations or speculative investment funds, and the model of intensive, industrial production, based on the depletion of natural resources, soil erosion and the export of products thousands of kilometres away. The use of a cheap, flexible workforce, forced to accept undignified working and housing conditions, is an essential element for the functioning of this type of agricultural production.   For all these reasons, Social Conditionality must be implemented when awarding CAP subsidies and benefits, as it is not consistent with the objectives of the EU or the CAP itself to continue giving public money to those whose business is built on the suffering and violation of rights of the most marginalised and vulnerable sectors of society, such as agricultural workers, most of whom are immigrants and displaced people. Decent working conditions for these workers are framed, as recognised by the UN Declaration of Peasants' Rights, in the defence of peasant agriculture, local markets and a system of marketing and public controls and support that guarantees decent working conditions and incomes for all rural workers, whether they are self-employed or salaried producers.   After many years of demands, Social Conditionality has been taken into account in this year's CAP agreement, but its real, effective and compulsory application in all states remains to be achieved.


Klarien Klingen - Toekomstboeren

  I co-farm a CSA in the Netherlands where solidarity is a core value. Making good and healthy food accessible to all has motivated my work as a farmer and we want to show through our daily practices that farming differently with a focus on small scale and local production is possible and essential to our future. We farm in clear contrast with the large industrial and export-focused farming businesses that are most common in my country and that largely benefit from the current CAP.   At our CSA we emphasise and safeguard the creation of healthy environments, through the production of clean water and air, safeguarding biodiversity, using no pesticides and herbicides, as well as by working increasingly on possibilities to sequester carbon in our soil. Those are the ecosystem services we badly need today and should serve as examples of good practices. The CAP should support these good practices actively instead of offering subsidies to hollowed out agro-environmental schemes that don’t fundamentally change anything long term and that small-scale farmers have difficulty accessing.   Furthermore, in the Netherlands access to land is a very serious issue. With the continuous way the CAP links subsidies to hectares, not only can we not access these subsidies as the scale we work with is considered too small, they are also the cause of land access difficulties: raising prices and encouraging land grabbing and land concentration. Our CSA does not receive any funding from CAP, yet and without a doubt, its practices have a very direct impact on our daily lives as farmers.

Belén Verdugo - CERES

  The CAP is a fraud on the European population. It is a capitalist and patriarchal alliance that is appropriating food, which is a human right, and has become a way of exterminating the peasant population. The CAP is unfair, immoral and has no explanation as a policy because it is neither a policy nor public. It is a priviledge of the capitalist population that dominates globalised food.   Check the original video here: https://www.eurovia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/5_BelenVerdugo_PAC.mov  

Santi Rodríguez - SLG

  For me, the CAP as we know it today is a trap of the European system to maintain food production with poor conditions for producers or even a low cost of production so that a few multinationals can speculate. That is why it is necessary for producers, organisations, local consumers, trade unions and others to organise and move together to react against food speculation, which is the only thing we need to stay alive. I don't know if it is the only thing we need to live, but it is the only thing we need to be alive: food, drink and breathe. That's all. Check the original video here: 2b_Santi_PAC  

María Ferreiro - SLG

What is the CAP for me? As a producer, it can be an aid that comes to our farms that produce food with some conditions to be fulfilled. But in reality we always ask ourselves: who does it really go to? Where does the money go? And also in my case, as a woman, I always wonder: How many female producers are there? What kind of production are women behind? Are we part of these small-scale transformation processes? And many times we also do direct sales. All these concepts that the CAP should apparently include, and if it does, it is in the small print, then there is no actual place for them and they are excluded. That is why we sometimes say that women are not represented in the CAP, or at least our small-scale production is not. Check the original video here: 1_MaríaFerreiro_PAC

Pier Francesco - ARI


I am an agricultural worker and technician and aspiring farmer in Italy. From the ECVC Youth group perspective, we want to underline that this CAP is not only lacking ambition regarding youth related policies, but could really represent an obstacle for young farmers in the future. The share of 2% of CAP budget allocated to young farmers is too low, and we see an insufficient political and economic focus on new entrants in the CAP.   We firmly believe that new farmers should be a priority for the European Union, since in Europe we know that only 11% of all farm holdings are run by farmers under 40. For example, in Italy, in my country, this percentage is only 4.5%. Europe desperately needs more farmers and new entrants. However, on one hand we see that the economic measures for this are insufficient, and on the other hand this new CAP reform does not give sufficient importance tot market issues and the importance of fair prices for a decent life for farmers and especially young farmers.   We need to address in this CAP:  young people need start-up to be grants fairly and proportionally allocated in all European countries, and degressive income support from the start from the new installation onwards. We also urge for accountability and transparency in national policies to support youth agriculture, because we don't want to see increasing inequalities among Member States. We need strong commitment from the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Member States to include specific targeted measures for young farmers in the national strategic plans in the CAP.  

Attila - Eco Ruralis

      I am a peasant farmer from Romania, member of Ecoruralis and member of the Coordinating Committee of ECVC.   In Romania, we are almost 4 million peasant farmers to produce food, but we are neglected by the CAP. Most of us do not get subsidies from the CAP because we are considered too small, even though we are the ones who feed Europe. In Romania, only 800,000 beneficiaries have been receiving CAP subsidies.   The CAP must remember that the millions of small scale and medium-scale farmers who still make up the vast majority of farmers across the European union play a fundamental economic, social and territorial role because they diversify food production, ensure food quality and consumer health and protect the environment.   We are again facing deep disappointment in witnessing the way the new CAP is being shaped. Again, because we witnessed already how the current CAP directly contributed to the rapid disappearance of small-scale family farmers all over the EU and how it accelerated land concentration and land grabbing. This current CAP failed to address the crucial issue of supporting the next generation of farmers.   What we want in the new CAP? A redistribution of aids and a capping of the maximum amount that can be received through CAP subsidies. It is also high time to adopt social conditionality and to be able to withdraw CAP aid in the event of serious infringement of social issues.    

Morgan - La Confédération Paysanne


I am a farmer in Brittany and a member of the Confédération Paysanne and ECVC. The current CAP reform is presented as greener, more ecological but in fact it does not include any measures to accompany farmers towards more agroecological practices. Therefore, it will not be possible to achieve the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Green Deal.     For example, on chemical pesticides: we want to reduce them by 50% by 2030, which is important for farmers because we are the biggest victims of the health effects of using these pesticides, but the eco schemes in the CAP will oblige only 5% of European farmers to improve their environmental practices in order to access extra subsidies.     In France, more than 70% of farmers will have access to eco shceme support without changing anything. The content of the eco schemes in the CAP is not sufficient to address climate change. It is impossible to ask farmers to improve their practices without providing better protection against agricultural imports that do not meet European social and environmental standards.  

José Manuel - COAG


    We have a 135 hectare family pasture, with cows and acorn-fed Iberian pigs. We have been organic since 1996. We also have beehives and a vegetable garden. The cows are an endangered breed, which we are trying to protect. But it is complicated.   Over the last few years, we have received CAP subsidies that have allowed us to survive and maintain and protect this endangered breed. However, the market has been getting worse. And the prices of our products do not cover the costs of production. Within the CAP, we need to create mechanisms to ensure that our organic products, produced through extensive farming methods with excellent animal welfare and high quality processes and products, receive fair prices and allow us to live from our work and continue living in and maintaining the rural environment. That is what we want.   There must also be support for farmers that recognises all the additional benefits we create for society. There has to be a fair distribution, giving priority to farmers and capping maximum aid a farm can receive. Otherwise big companies and investment funds will take most of the CAP budget. And those of us who need it, don't get it.


Robert - Life

      As a farmer, healthy ecosystems and climate are the most important part of my work. I was not aware of that from the beginning, when I started farming. I completely changed my approach 6 years ago when I stopped using mineral fertilizers and pesticides in the orchard. I realized that producing with the help of nature is much more responsible for my well being and that of my family, other people and future generations. I used to do this in my own garden and orchard next to the house, but the experts assured me that I would not be able to do so when I started cultivating larger areas and working for the market. Luckily I didn’t listen to their recommendations for long.   Today I use only organic plant protection and fertilization in order to preserve the soil and the environment and produce healthy food. Around and inside orchards and vegetable gardens I try to create as natural an environment as possible. For this I use shelters for insects, bees, solitary bees, birds. In the row between the trees I only do mechanical tillage and mowing. I keep as many shrubs as possible around the orchards so that the birds have natural habitats. Within the farm there are two ponds with fish and a multitude of frogs and birds that love such places.   Farm work is family-based. Only during the harvest and occasionally for some other work do I employ a local workforce. Also, I try to buy local food products from peasants and other farmers.   Today the CAP has no significant impact on my farm except as income support through direct payments. What I would like to see in the future CAP is to recognize the importance of sustainable production and care for the environment and one health and the irreplaceable role of small farmers in that.

Vincent - MAP


  The annual CAP subsidies represent a very small part of the income of our small 23 hectare grassland farm. Subsidies are distributed per hectare and historically support more industrial productions. In addition, the support given to maintain organic farming decreases with each change in legislature.   On the other hand, the subsidies for first-time farmers have enabled me to expand my cheese dairy without having to take a loan; it is an important tool to ensure I get the best value possible for my products. I process all of my milk into cheese and market it in short circuits, and it is thanks to this that I can get by, and not thanks to the CAP.   CAP aid should be distributed per full-time equivalent and support the creation of added value on farms.


Geneviève - La Confédération Paysanne

      Since I own a small poultry farm on a few hectares of land, I receive no annual aid from the CAP.   For me, the main thing with these direct sales productions is to be able to produce and sell, and that the various standards and rules remain accessible.   But it is different for young people who want to start; better support is important, it could come in the form of income support for the first 3-5 years, and rural development grants for equipment should be easier and faster to access. Some regions do not support "small" projects. This is unfair.      

John - Talamh Beo

I have a small farm of 23 ha where I farm Irish Moiled Cattle (a rare breed) and sheep. I have been organic since 1998. I receive payments from EU under pillar 2 for keeping rare breeds and farming organically. I also have many habitats on my farm including a Natura 2000 site. I manage an organic cooperative of 200 farmers where I work to market their produce in both long and short supply chains. In addition, we provide a full advisory service for our members. Many of farmers are delivering significant public goods as their farming systems often go far beyond organic.   The coop is also involved in Talamh Beo, a new organisation lobbying for a better deal for smallholders under the CAP. We are looking for proper recognition for smallholders with a basic income support payment far greater than the one that now exists in the current scheme. We advocate for financial support for local food networks and short food supply chains. We would like to see front-loading of agri-environmental Pillar 2 schemes. We also want full convergence on entitlements. The environmental pillar here in Ireland has enabled us to be more involved in the CAP consultancy process, and we are engaging with the department of agriculture on the protection of rare breeds under CAP.


Magdalena, Lisa, Daniela, Eva, Monika, Kathi, Heidi and Maria - ÖBV

    I have put a lot of hope in the new agricultural policy, which was all about "Green Deal" and "Farm to Fork". But the interim result is totally disturbing and worrying.   Small farms are shutting down, the big ones are expanding. But I would be interested to know how people could be encouraged to stay; and how agricultural policy could support this.   We are fed up with an agricultural policy which is always about land and money. We want a common agricultural policy that values the fact that we invest our time and contribute to the preservation of soil fertility and biodiversity. We want an agricultural policy that makes it possible for people to get into farming.   A great strength of our small farms is a crisis-proof food supply through on-farm processing. Most ideas for this are from us women. That is why we demand project and investment funding to be less bureaucratic - so that people have the confidence to apply for it.   We women often feel responsible for maintaining crop diversity. Crop diversity requires a lot of work, but relatively little area. But most subsidies are linked to the size of the farm and too little attention is paid to the type of farming. Thus, small, diverse farms are often left behind. I call for better support for the preservation of crop diversity so that my grandchildren can still have diversity on their plates one day.   The concern for good food for all must be taken much more into account in future agricultural policy. We need an agricultural turnaround!            

Gregorio and Paula - ARI

  Our family farm consists of 3 hectares of orchards, apricots, peaches and vegetables.   In the past, we used to sell our fruit to the general market through an intermediary and with very low prices. For about three years now we have been trying to sell our products directly on the farm. Our fruit are organic, we don't use any chemical pesticides or herbicides. We also host guests through agri-tourism, with 5 guest rooms, and we prepare breakfast with our own products.   Due to the small number of hectares, our farm is not economically supported by the CAP, and we cannot access the minimum contribution per farmer.   We have been asking for years that the CAP pay more attention to small farms because they produce quality, varied and important food for a healthy diet. The Common Agricultural Policy, on the other hand, gives funding to large farms that produce only one crop, which over the years will leave the land impoverished and the surrounding environment often degraded.  

Matthäus - ÖBV


  Our family has been operating a mountain farm in Salzburgerland for more than 400 years. During this time, the climate, landscape and economy have changed a lot. Local mining at the beginning of the modern period led to large-scale clearing of mountain forests, which allowed the expansion of alpine agriculture and an early orientation towards the export of livestock and cheese. Since 1960, some of these areas have become ski resorts, basis of a snow-based tourism industry. The rest - including our alpine pastures - have reverted to forest. But global warming is opening up unprecedented opportunities for the bark beetle (a species of wood-eating beetle), so we are seeing an even more dramatic loss of value for wood than for beef. The continued devaluation of peasant production is therefore the central motivation for us for the CAP. The logic of the tourism industry does not hide this fact: for them, the main function of family farming is to preserve so-called arable crops, not to produce food. The new CAP must abandon these aberrations - it must support small farms by increasing support for the first hectares and enable us small farmers to create new jobs.      

Anca - Ecoruralis


Ursu ​​Farm in Bogdănița Vaslui is, in legal terms, a family business, but in practical terms, a nature-friendly and educational household. From caring for the birds and the rest of the beings who take care of our garden, to the production and delivery of the vegetables themselvesy, we follow guidelines for a healthy food, diet and lifestyle. Our farm is surrounded by forest, which offers protection from a climatic point of viewted and we work to take care of the forest.   Wen they saw how we were developing, our neighbors followed our example and we helped them build greenhouses. This year we collaborated in our work, each neighbour bringing expertise in their own sector: one neighbor took care of the garlic, the other of the greens and together we made Garden Packages that we delivered to homes in the nearby cities. We do not use chemical treatments and we try to use sustainable agricultural methods, combining complimentary plants and following a well-established plan so that healthy vegetables from Bogdănița reach as many consumers as possible.   The CAP helped me on the one hand with a project tailored to the modernization of small farms. Through it we had free consultations financed by the state. After a year, the money came in and now we have implemented 3 quarters of the project. On the other hand, various programs have been cut, such as the Minimis second cycle of tomatoes and the subsidy for families with less than 5 cows, which has greatly affected the neighbours. We hope thre will be a stringer interest within the Common Agricultural Policy to focus on the needs of small producers, to focus on free advisory services, the exchange of experience, less bureaucracy and the development of functional projects such as more local markets, to change the ad-hoc way in which we, as peasant-farmer sell our produce.        

Brindusa - Ecoruralis

    Too many small-scale agroecological farmers are invisible to the CAP, although they produce diverse and nutritious food for their local markets. In Romania, starting from a non-farming background and with a small budget as a newcomer in agriculture takes a lot of inner motivation, patience and some luck. We cannot leave generational renewal in agriculture to chance, so the CAP should support it concretly.   I settled 7 years ago in Stanciova village with my partner and became an authorized producer of vegetables in 2018. Since we only have acccess to 0.5 ha (half of which is rented on informal agreement) the prospects of developing our market garden enterprise are quite difficult. Me and my partner looked long and hard at getting young farmer grants but the material conditions for them are simply too high to qualify even if we both have studied in agriculture. It boils down to land surface and the artificially considered economic size of enterprise just to be able to submit a young farmer project application. But what about the environmental and social sizes of small farms? We're connected to consumers to who we sell directly, we're here, ready to extend our regenerative practices in the village, but get stuck in off-farm jobs to afford a bit more land and appropriate technology and infrastracture.   Like us there are other newcomers, that need a lot of grit to pursue their dream if they lack capital, but risk to get lost along the way. Making a living from small-scale farming is also becoming impossible in Romania. They compete with industrial, large-scale farmers that are getting larger due to subsidies available, as well as non-farming land owners who are not at all incentivised to support the installation of a new generation of food producers. All these missing puzzle pieces make entering agriculture a hostile and unknown territory to which the CAP reform must respond, to address the urgent needs on the ground.


Marielle - NBS

  In Norway we have our own CAP. The Norwegian CAP is more effective than the EU CAP because we negotiate specificly for our food production in Norway. We repeat this every year. On the other hand, there could postivies of having a bigger alliance of small farmer organisations, like in the EU. We have specific policies that support small scale farmers. For an initial number animals and acres, farmers get more subsidy per animal/acre. Before 2014 there was a cap of amount of subsidies you could get. Effectively removing this cap, (by making it extremly high) was a stimulation and motivation for some farmes to grow the size of their farms. In practice, it meant that other (smaller) farmers had to quit farming because a bigger part of the CAP was prioritized for the bigger farms. The NBS (Norwegian Farmers and Smallholders Union) is still fighting to get this reversed. We believe it is unfair and we want more farmers not fewer and bigger.   The fact that EU countries do not have market regulation, means that overproduction is common. This can effect our national market. Funds for agriculture should go directly to peasants farmers. We should receive extra support for small-scale production and food produced using local resources, or that is climate and environmently friendly. In short, agroecological farming should be better supported. Agroecological farming is a way to fight climate change and not the cause for it.   On my farm, we produce organic goatmilk and make cheese. Half of the milk is sold to the Tine cooperative, a farmer-owned cooperative that buys milk throughout Norway. Through this cooperative we have market regulation that will avoid overproduction on the Norwegian market. Without Tine, in such a big country with a small population, it would not be possible to produce food profitably.


José-Miguel - CNA

  I am a producer in a mountain region in Portugal, which is classified as a disadvantaged region and is located in the Red Natura 2000 area. I have an area of just over 2 ha and produce mainly red fruits, which I sell mostly to direct buyers and through a producer association that we set up with about 25 members. The Producers' Association was built without any public support because the marketing volumes that a producer organisation must have in order to benefit from public support are too high.   At the associative level, each season, we work to get fair, renumerative prices, which is frankly difficult, as we depend on intermediaries and work with a perishable product, which once ripe has to be harvested and marketed quickly. We look for buyers outside Portugal, trying not to depend on third parties, but the problem we face is the diversity of our production, as each member works with different varieties, different production models and different soil and climate conditions and the mass market wants a uniform product.   We hear that the problem of small-scale agriculture, or family farming, lies in the inability to create organisational models of production that allow for a volume of supply capable of responding to a globalised market. The truth is that the globalised and massified model is hardly compatible with the diversity of this peasant model, and for that there is no solution in any organisational model.    

Elisabeth - ABL

I am a suckler cow farmer and I manage 150 ha.   By preserving and creating meadows and pastures for our cattle, for example, we farmers make a very concrete contribution to climate protection and the protection of biodiversity.   However, the CAP does not yet reward these public services, but rather promotes the growth in size and specialisation of agricultural holdings.   The CAP after 2020 must break this paradigm and finally pay for our work on climate and biodiversity protection in concrete terms


Jean-Pierre - La Confédération Paysanne

  As breeders of around thirty dairy cows (a third of which are an endangered breed) at an altitude of 900m in the Cantal region of France, our system is based on grazing as much as possible on natural meadows (for around 8 months/year), despite being based in the mountains. The need for fodder stocks is therefore reduced to 4 months per year and we only use hay. This results in a low consumption of fuel and other inputs (plastics).   We are dependent on the current CAP subsidies, like many French farms, however we think that we are legitimate recipients of the subsidies, as we deliver about 100,000 litres of organic milk to SODIAAL, and there are just two of us on the farm and we don't produce anything else. We are one of the rare French dairy farms to have achieved carbon near-neutrality, comparing our emissions and equivalent carbon storage (verified by a CAP2ER diagnosis).   In our opinion, the next CAP needs to focus providing support for those who are truly creating employment on farms and for farms making real contributions to biodiversity, with a low environmental and climatic impact.    

Ángeles - COAG

In my work as an organic farmer who also rears livestock, I play an important role in curbing the effects of climate change in my region. I grow local varieties of plants, I have an indigenous breed of sheep, cared for using traditional methods that respect the fields and forests while at the same time contributing to an increase in biodiversity. There are also six of us who work on the farm, as we have a small cheese factory where we process our milk to make cheese.   The CAP currently contributes significantly to farm income, but I believe that it has dismantled the rural environment, rewarding ownership rather than the work people do and contributing dramatically to rural depopulation and the masculinisation of the countryside. It also contributes to the negative view that society has of those who work in agriculture and livestock farming today, and the idea that we live on subsidies without working.   In order to value and support small farms, we must make CAP money goes to small-scale farmers, reducing the number of CAP subsidy recipients. This money must reach the people who actually work the fields and pay agricultural social security. Similarly, it would be helpful if one of the criteria of receiving subsidies designed for farmers were that you live in a village.    

Pierre - La Confédération Paysanne

As my farm is located in the mountains, the first subsidiaries I received from the CAP were the CAHN (compensatory allowance for permanent natural handicaps). They still exist and they are fully needed to make sure agriculture and peasants do stay in difficult areas such as the mountains. They were upgraded several times and still account for almost half of the subsidiaries I receive from the CAP.   From 1992, subsidiaries for cereals, mountain milk and so on have been added. Little by little, my farm has become dependent on the help provided by the CAP and I could not do without it financially. However, I do wish that my products were better paid.   The major part of the CAP subsidiaries depend on the size of the farm, are given without any condition (or very few) and are not capped. They encourage industrial and intensive farming as well as the enlargement of farms. They can prevent the installation of new peasants who often seek small areas to grow, process their products and sell directly. I directly experienced land grabbing a few years ago, when my son wanted to become a new partner on my farm. He has since given up. The CAP should be helping these new farmers to settle, just as it should help small farms and peasants who farm in an environmentally friendly way.     The CAP will have to change radically if it is to keep its legitimacy for European taxpayers and consumers. I believe that a lot of the CAP subsidiaries would become unnecessary if the aim of the CAP was to feed European citizens in quantity and quality instead of being competitive at all costs on the global market. But for this to happen, the EU would have to extricate itself from neo-liberal dogma, stop negotiating and signing free-trade agreements, whilst questioning those already existing.

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