Thursday, September 20th 2012 - 05:06 UTC

Family farmers and greens converge on Brussels to protest EU agriculture policy

Farmers and activists from all over the continent converged on European Union headquarters Wednesday to push for a food policy that is fairer to family farmers and kinder to the environment and developing nations.

Demonstrators arrived when Parliament is discussing the costly farm system (Photo AP)

Behind tractors, several hundred protesters, some of whom have been cycling or walking for weeks in the Good Food March, gathered for a mass brunch outside the European Parliament in Brussels, where a reform of the costly pan-EU farm system is being discussed.

From the culinary Slow Food movement to the Friends of the Earth environmental group, eight major organizations set up the march to push demands to drastically revamp policy away from industrial farming.

The coalition united under the slogan “EU farm policy must be fundamentally changed” regarding a new seven-year program that kicks in after 2013.

Within the 27-nation EU, the protesters charge that farming is geared far too much toward big agribusiness at the exclusion of family farming. The demonstrators carried signs saying “Size does matter” and “No to mega sties,” in their calls for small farming initiatives.

They claim that large farms and agricultural multinationals are endangering the environment with chemicals and genetically modified organisms, while also increasing pressure on food prices.

“We are going around and around, and nobody wants to take responsibility for the current situation and the misery in which the agricultural world is in,” said Erwin Schopges, chairman of the Belgian Milk Producers Association, after he had an argument over milk prices with EU Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos outside EU headquarters.

The 50-year-old Common Agricultural Policy has been a cornerstone of EU plans and was instrumental in staving off the threat of hunger early on before it got mired in overproduction and runaway subsidies that distorted the global agricultural markets and gave rise to trans-Atlantic trade conflicts.

“How can the EU citizens continue to accept this agriculture?” said Green farmer Jose Bove, who is vice chairman of the European Parliament's farm committee.

The European Commission has made proposals to promote employment and growth in rural areas to make sure the bloc's 16.7 million farmers can continue to keep a leading place in world farming, but Wednesday's protesters want it geared more away from industrial farming and subsidies that help undercut global prices.

The EU nations are seeking to conclude their negotiations on the euro1 trillion, seven-year budget by the end of the year, but the European economic crisis has reduced the outlook for a quick compromise. The EU farm budget proposals alone stand for euro390 billion.

6 comments Feed

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1 DanyBerger (#) Sep 20th, 2012 - 09:00 am Report abuse
And the idiot farmers from Palermo Soja?
2 vestias (#) Sep 20th, 2012 - 10:25 am Report abuse
Os lideres da Europa tem que apostar nas pequenas unidades de produção agricola uma agricultora sustentável
3 Yuleno (#) Sep 20th, 2012 - 02:00 pm Report abuse
The family farmers want more subsidies to provide for their families,but are happy to keep out African produce which is produced more cheaply and just as ethically.Thats protectionism(or planning?)
4 Pogul-X (#) Sep 20th, 2012 - 07:23 pm Report abuse
@3 Yuleno
How can it be more ethical or environmentally friendly when the workers in Africa who produce it are paid a pittance, and then it has to be flown from Africa to Europe.

The EU CAP (common agricultural policy) is and always has been a complete cluster fc*k, and desperately needs to be replaced.

Britain remember has most of its contribution to this policy paid back in the form of a refund, hated by the French and others of course, but cushioning us from the worst excesses of the cost of this policy.

The only sensible way forward is to produce locally, and stop sending things half way round the world.
5 Yuleno (#) Sep 20th, 2012 - 09:44 pm Report abuse
So in this case you're saying it's unethical because African families can produce crops cheaper.Family farmers dont get paid,they sell their produce.Or do you mean they should price it so that it won't sell and European farmers can produce it and be subsidised.You are not telling me that is what should happen are you 4#.
6 British_Kirchnerist (#) Sep 25th, 2012 - 01:19 am Report abuse
The CAP has been a disaster for Africa, it should go

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