Today, in a press conference organised by European Coordination Via Campesina, small and medium-scale farmers from across Europe put forward their demands for the next round of trilogue negotiations.
The press conference gave the spotlight to family farmers, who make up 95% of the EU’s 10.5 million farms. For these farmers, it is clear that the approval and compulsory introduction of a number of specific measures is the only way to salvage some hope from the current inadequate and insufficient CAP reform.
The need to increase support for small-scale farmers through market regulation and fair prices was repeatedly underlined, in order to guarantee that farmers receive fair and stable prices for their produce, instead of being at the peril of a supposedly self-regulating market that never has or will work. If the CAP cannot guarantee fair and stable prices to farmers, it is clear that the other objectives of the CAP, along with the objectives of the F2F and Biodiversity Strategies, will be impossible to achieve.
As Attila Szocs from the ECVC Coordinating Committee explained, “without public market regulation, large industry and distribution actors will continue to pressure farmers to produce and sell at ever cheaper prices”, leading to the destruction of more social and sustainable small and medium-scale farming, the loss of biodiversity and the depopulation of rural areas, the imposition of industrial agriculture based on the increased use of pesticides, the misuse and mistreatment of natural resources and animals and the violation of workers’ rights among other consequences. This also relates to the approval and implementation of social conditionality within the CAP, a long-fought battle of organisations representing small and medium-scale farmers and rural workers, which cannot be achieved without guaranteed fair prices for farmers.
For ECVC members, CAP support must include compulsory degressivity and capping, income support for new entrants, redistributive payments and the application of the small farmers scheme. If the negotiation do not agree to make these a compulsory part of the National Strategic plans, governments are not obliged to distribute aid in a better and fairer way, then the power and influence of industrial agriculture and large-scale lobbies will win out to maintain the damaging and unsustainable status quo. In addition, failing to make such measures compulsory will increase the differences and inequalities that already exist between Member States within the single market, and continue to block the renewal of the ageing population of farmers.
Furthermore, these peasant farmers were united in their concerns relating to the environment and the suitability of eco schemes within the CAP to ensure environmentally friendly agricultural production. As Morgan Ody highlighted, in the most recent proposal of the French National Strategic Plan, it was stated that 70% of farmers would not have to change any practices to qualify for additional eco scheme subsidies. For the small and medium-scale farmers who see first-hand the impacts of climate change on our food production systems, this demonstrates the unambitious and insufficient nature of the eco schemes within the CAP. However, small and medium-scale farmers recognise the adoption of article 188a (which would restrict food imports that don’t respect EU social and environmental standards) as an opportunity to take an important first step towards achieving the goals set out in the Green Deal and F2F and Biodiversity Strategies.
The frustration of small and medium-scale farmers across Europe is highly visible, as proven by the farmers’ demonstration organised by ECVC member CNA, which filled the streets of Lisbon during the informal meeting of agriculture and fisheries ministers this week. In this final stage of negotiations, ECVC calls for the EU Institutions to listen to the voices of small-scale farmers and agree on a legislative package that truly reflects the needs and demands of all farmers, of citizens and of the planet.