HomeIdeaConfédération paysanne and LiberiAgricoltori, the reasons for the protest

Confédération paysanne and LiberiAgricoltori, the reasons for the protest

The farmers' protest continues in France and in Italy - as we have seen (1,2) - while the positions expressed by Confédération paysanne and LiberiAgricoltori help to understand their reasons.

A reform of agricultural policies is essential, at EU and member state levels, to guarantee the survival of a sector still rooted in peasant and family agriculture.

And it is necessary to guarantee adequate representation and protection of small agricultural companies in a system dominated by large agricultural confederations.

1) France, Confédération paysanne supports the farmers' protest

The National Committee of the Confédération paysanne, at its meeting on 24 January 2024, 'affirms its full solidarity with the peasant movements in France' and 'calls for mobilization to have more and better paid farmers! 'From the Rhone to Loire-Atlantique and the Var, the Pyrenees Orientales, Brittany, Calvados and beyond.'Collectively, we want to provide real, fundamental solutions to farmers' distress'. The slogans follow three shared priorities on the economic, social and environmental fronts (3,4).

1.1) Enough! At #belowcost sales!

'A decent income for all farmers' is the top priority. 'This is why we urgently ask for a law that prohibits all agricultural prices lower than production costs'.

'Since our incomes are not guaranteed by the prohibition on purchasing our products below production costs, we call for structural measures with guaranteed minimum prices, market regulation (also in Europe) and volume control'.

'Beyond compliance (finally!) with the Egalim law, no announcement has been made so far to ensure remunerative prices for our agricultural products, which are the main problem'. (5)

1.2) 'Disrupt free trade'

French farmers then call for the immediate interruption of negotiations on free trade agreements. Starting from the EU – Mercosur agreement which, as we have seen, is destined to cause a social and environmental dumping  to the detriment of European farmers. (6) Brazilian farmers and land workers, it should be noted, in turn oppose the liberalization of trade in commodities obtained through land robbery and deforestation, even if (falsely) certified as sustainable. (7)

Free trade upon closer inspection is not negative in itself, but it becomes negative when it involves the globalization of the exploitation of workers and the devastation of ecosystems. And it is therefore necessary, adds the writer, to:

– ensure the effective application of Deforestation Regulation (EU) No 2023/1115 (8) e Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (EU) No 2022/1288, (9) but above all

– convert into regulation the proposal for a 'due diligence' directive already presented by the European Commission but (deliberately) not completed in the current legislature (10)

– introduce conditions (tariff quotas, food safety and socio-environmental guarantees) on the import of agri-food products from Ukraine and other countries (11,12,13).

1.3) Agroecology, full speed ahead!

Confédération paysanne in France, like Assorurale, Altragricoltura and LiberiAgricoltori in Italy, is in favor of agroecology as the main path to guarantee the economic sustainability of agricultural activities, the restoration of soil health and productivity, the nutrient cycle and independence from volatility of the costs of technical inputs. As well as the health of farmers and consumers, the protection of ecosystems, biodiversity and rural landscapes.

The ecological transition is a collective benefit that farmers and breeders must be able to continue with the funding promised in the strategy' Farm to Fork', which European Parliament and the Council have deviated - following the diktat of the large agricultural confederations, in conflict of interests with the Big 4 (14) – both in the 'smoke grey' reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and in the boycott of Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (15,16)

'Let's not miss the target! The main concern on the ground is to earn a decent living from one's work. The administrative overload must be eased without calling into question the standards that protect our health, our social rights and our planet' (Confédération paysanne).

1.4) No to false solutions

Agriculture to farmers and workers of the land! The dominant agricultural confederations, such as FNSEA in France (and Coldiretti in Italy), 'have jointly led agriculture into the current impasse of an ultra-liberal, unjust and destructive economic system. We will warn our colleagues against the dream of 'abolishing regulations' and 'supplementing incomes' through energy production'.

The 'boss of bosses' of Coldiretti, it should be remembered, wanted to deprive farmers of €1,5 out of the €2,8 billion in funding provided for in the PNRR, to allocate it to 'agri-solar parks' which have nothing to do with agricultural activities, except increasing the extra profits of energy companies that are members of 'his' Filiera Italia. (17)

The new GMOs (masked behind the acronym NGTs, New Genomic Techniques) are another false solution whose predictable outcomes for farmers, in case of deregulation, will be:

– aggravate the dependence on suppliers of seeds (with additional costs) and other technical inputs

– risk having to pay royalties in the event of accidental contamination

– lose the biodiversity that characterizes and distinguishes local productions. (18)

'Let us therefore continue to mobilize to bring together as many people as possible and finally offer a desirable, secure and sustainable future to large numbers of paid farmers and take pride in producing quality food' (Confédération paysanne).

2) Italy, LiberiAgricoltori supports the protest

LiberiAgricoltori in turn supports the farmers' protest in Italy and articulates a position appropriate to the national context. LiberiAgricoltori is a confederation (not a 'union', as Coldiretti claims to be), built in 2012 by a network of farmers, breeders and technicians who had and maintain their trust.

Farmers are the national President Iacopo Becherini, as well as the national vice-President Furio Venarucci and the Presidents of the regions Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio, Abruzzo, Puglia, Basilicata, Sicily and Sardinia. The other regional presidents are technicians elected by farmers.

The managers, please note, are not paid according to a specific statutory provision. Because LiberiAgricoltori is a mission for those who work in agriculture and not a position of income. There are approximately 55.000 registered farms, of which 35.000 are medium-large, compared to Italian standards (between 20 and 1000 hectares), as well as 20.000 small and microscopic ones.

2.1) Italian agriculture, the critical issues

'Italian agriculture is going through a profound and unprecedented crisis, which makes the near future uncertain for thousands of agricultural businesses in an international context characterized by epochal changes' (LiberiAgricoltori, 24.1.24).

Among the main critical issues, LiberiAgricoltori underlines:

– increasingly less profitable prices, also due to the significant increase in production costs

– growing difficulty in placing national agricultural products on the market

– unfair competition from very low-cost products from other countries, where official controls on food and feed safety are rare or absent.

2.2) LiberiAgricoltori, requests to the government

The Italian Confederation LiberiAgricoltori asks the government to adopt immediate interventions to guarantee, in particular:

– the application of the ban on sales below cost on supplies to industry and large-scale organized distribution

- 'controls on speculation which cause prices to continually fall in every production sector'

- 'the promotion of increasingly sustainable agriculture in which Europe more adequately supports the phase of transition from the conventional cultivation method to more sustainable methods (organic, integrated, etc.), through adequate incentives to compensate for the higher costs and lower production and considering that prices at origin continue to be too low'

– support for breeding, such as'last bastion against desertification and hydrogeological instability'

– greater controls on the quality of wheat imported from non-EU countries and on the traceability of milk in the dairy supply chain

– the simplification of bureaucracy for agricultural companies, and

- 'the receivership of all bodies, public or participated, which do not have financial statements in order. And bodies, such as the Reclamation Consortia [led byColdiretti] that are managed as private business rather than in the public'.

3) Italy, threat to freedom of association

Participation of farmers to agro-industrial policies is guaranteed, in civilized countries, through associations and unions to which have the constitutional freedom to join and/or not to join.

Italian minister for Agriculture, however, it is preparing to adopt a decree aimed at excluding freelancers from access to the information registers necessary to manage EU funding practices in agriculture, as we have seen. (19)

The consequence of the aforementioned measure is to force the recipients of EU aid to rely on Coldiretti (or possibly Confagricoltura) to request and receive what are entitled to. In defiance of freedom of association.

4) Perspectives

The social and economic  protection of farmers represents a priority, since 'food security', as well as the maintenance of rural areas, depend on them. Provided that such activities are carried out with respect for ecosystems, public health and animal welfare.

The #fairprice of agri-food products is the absolute priority, sales below cost are the first enemy to be defeated. However, public contributions in agriculture must be conditional on a true ecological transition, in the direction indicated (and so far boycotted) in the 'Farm to Fork' strategy.

The mobilisations in the meantime continue, also in Brussels where on 1 February 2024 Confédération paysanne joins the initiative of the Belgian union FUGEA. The same is true in Italy, despite the silence of the media and the threats from Coldiretti to its members who participate.

5) Provisional conclusions

'The introduction of guaranteed prices for our agricultural products, the definition of minimum entry prices into the national territory, economic support for the agro-ecological transition commensurate with the issues at stake, the priority given to the creation and not the expansion of agricultural holdings, the blocking of artificialisation of agricultural land: let's unite to find solutions for the future, to transform this anger in a positive way and emerge from the stagnation into which the agricultural world has sunk for too long' (Confédération paysanne).

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. Sales below costs, farmers protest in France. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 21.1.24

(2) Dario Dongo. Italy, farmers protest against Coldiretti. #CleanSpades. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 26.1.24

(3) La Confédération paysanne appelle à se mobiliser pour des paysannes et paysans nombreux et rémunérés ! Communiqué de presse. Bagnolet, 24.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/mtzh2w86

(4) La Confédération paysanne ne peut se satisfaire des annonces du government et poursuit la mobilisation. 26.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/2bxy3wac

(5) Loi Egalim. See paragraph 3 of the article cited in note 1

(6) Dario Dongo. Brazil, pesticide massacres are added to deforestation. Unsustainable EU-Mercosur agreement. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 21.4.21

(7) Dario Dongo. Brazil, land grabbing and deforestation for 'sustainable' palm oil from Ferrero and Big Food. Open letter. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 22.5.23

(8) Dario Dongo. Deforestation Regulation. Due diligence on critical raw materials begins. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.7.23

(9) Dario Dongo, Elena Bosani. Sustainability reports and responsible investments, ESG and CSR due diligence. EU Reg. 2022/1288. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.7.22

(10) Dario Dongo, Elena Bosani. Due diligence and ESG, social and environmental sustainability of companies, the proposed EU directive. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 20.4.22

(11) See paragraphs 4,5,6 in the previous article by Dario Dongo. European farmers, the Ukrainian question in Brussels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.1.24

(12) Dario Dongo, Guido Cortese. Ferrero, hazelnuts and child labor. BBC investigation into Turkey. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.11.19

(13) Dario Dongo. BBC Indonesia. Voice to the natives robbed to produce palm oil. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.6.22

(14) Dario Dongo. Seeds, the 4 masters of the world. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.1.19

(15) Dario Dongo. PAC post 2020, smoky gray. We need an organic revolution. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 22.10.20

(16) Dario Dongo. No to reducing pesticides, yes to glyphosate. ToxicEurope. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 23.11.23

(17) See paragraph 3.3 of the previous article by Dario Dongo. National action plan for pesticides, sustainable agriculture and PNRR. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.2.22

(18) Dario Dongo. NGTs, new GMOs, deregulation advances. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 24.1.24

(19) Dario Dongo. AGEA and MASAF 'Coldiretti'. The suppression of freelancers in agricultureGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 30.9.23

(20) Farmers return to blockade the European neighborhood in Brussels. After the double siege carried out at the beginning and end of February to contest EU policies, around a hundred tractors are gathering this morning near the headquarters of the main EU institutions. Some fires were set on Place du Luxembourg, in front of the European Parliament buildings, which had already been stormed on 1 February. Firecrackers are being thrown near the headquarters of the European Commission and the EU Council, where the European Agriculture Ministers are meeting. Some fires were set by burning tires and bales of hay even in front of the department responsible for disbursing the funds of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). There are currently around a hundred tractors gathered in Rue de la Loi, the main artery that crosses the EU district. FUGEA and ECVC farmers return to Brussels.

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