Slow Food on the farmers’ protests: „We need a just and inclusive transition for all, for farmers too“

19 Jan 2024 | English

Our farmers need fair prices for their products, a forward-looking policy and secure funding commitments.

The yearly “Wir haben es Satt! (We are fed up)” demonstration is taking place today in Berlin, coordinated by a coalition of over 50 organizations, including Slow Food Deutschland.

Now in its twenty fourth year, the demonstration aims to fight against and raise awareness of the negative consequences of agribusiness, which include threatening the livelihood of many small-scale farms each year and undermining consumers’ right to transparency and choice, as well as increasing the standardization of tastes and thus the loss of biodiversity. Industrial agriculture undermines in fact the diversity of crops present in farmers’ fields, it contributes consistently to CO2 global emissions and leaks pollutants into soils and groundwater, impoverishing food nutritional quality and harming our health.

Farmers, conventional and organic, environmental and animal rights activists, development cooperation and food movement activists, committed young people and critical citizens are demonstrating together in favor of a rural, more ecological and GMO-free agriculture.

However, this year’s demonstration comes after columns of tractors blocked roads in Germany in recent days.

Nina Wolff, president of Slow Food Germany and member of the Slow Food International Board, comments: “The farmers‘ protests are taking place against the backdrop of decades of misguided agricultural policy, which we strongly criticize. Our farmers need fair prices for their products, a forward-looking policy and secure funding commitments, which are still lacking today, in order to restructure agriculture in a way that is climate and animal-friendly. We are fed up too! The current resistance from the agricultural sector to the announcement of short-term subsidy cuts was predictable. The transition to sustainability is urgent, must be inclusive and enable everyone to play their part. We call out against the instrumentalisation of the protests by far-right groups that claim to represent farmers and aim to rally votes ahead of the 2024 European elections, overshadowing the important public discussion about the much needed transition in our food systems“.

In recent years, industrial European farmers have strongly protested policies such as the Green Deal, which aim to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly. These policies impact the industrial agricultural sector, responsible for around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, and France, similar actions took place with convoys of tractors or farmers taking the streets to protest against policies to protect the planet that they say cost too much.

Marta Messa, Secretary General of Slow Food, explains: “Farmers are caught in between the pressure of policies, the food industry and large scale retail distribution. The most generous subsidies, from the Common Agricultural Policy, as well as all the advisory services they rely on, have been strongly geared towards industrial farming and ever higher production since 1960. It is not a surprise that the change of course demanded by policy meets the frustration and resistance of industrial farmers.

But here it is not a question of agriculture versus the environment. Farmers rely on nature, farming needs a healthy environment to prosper. However, more than 80% of habitats in Europe are in poor shape, and yields for some crops have already been hit by poor soils, a lack of water and extreme weather events.

The real threat is the attention that farmers’ protests have attracted from far-right and populist parties, as well as radical conspiracy theorists. As we approach the European Parliament elections as well as eight national elections in Europe this year, we need to continue working towards a just and inclusive transition, calling out any attempts by political groups to push our societies towards far right-wing policies that take us far from good, clean and fair food for all” she concludes.

Slow Food fights for a change in food systems that benefits the environment and the climate, while supporting producers.


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