José Bové on the Agricultural Crisis

EuroparlTV : Agricultural Crisis : What Solution?

Farmers have demonstrated across France and in Brussels, but are their problems understood by politicians and what relief can they hope for? Patrick Delfosse (EuroparlTV) met MEP Jośe Bové to forward him farmer's questions about the ongoing European Agricultural Crisis. Some excerpts:


Q: We see Germany is blocking all change in the European dairy production system. [...] 


A: What's clear is that already during the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy we saw national egoism take over. Every state defends its businesses. [...] Germany having a policy like that within the European framework... It's totally unacceptable that one country can decide for the others. Today, several countries are acting like that: Holland, Denmark. Yet even the models of these countries at at risk. In Denmark farmers are no longer paid correctly, and many Danish farms are bankrupt. It'll be the same in Germany. What me worries today is that with these recurring crises, a majority of farmers will disappear and so will the ability of Europeans to produce food for their own population. 


Q: But that would mean imposing a price on the dairy industry? 


A: It means we must impose production volumes per country. It means we must go back to quotas of a kind, managed differently.


Q: Return to the quotas that you, too, fought?


A: We fought the linked perverse laws. In many countries the quotas were good. To set up for yourself you had to buy quotas, which was a complete scandal. [...] So now the new lifeline is to say, in one year we'll take stock of the CAP and the problems of agriculture. It means roughly speaking that the CAP as the states wanted it has already been questioned and will be changed for 2020. In the meantime, how many farmers will disappear? 


Q: So what kind of farmers do we want? [...] What would you think of smaller farms where people can develop agroforestry and keep an eye on invasive plants, where animals eat what grows on the property, where the aim is quality. For sure, it might be a bit more expensive for consumers, but with the idea that people will eat less meat and the vegetarian aspect is included. P. Delfosse adding: Is he dreaming?


A: Not really, because of climate change, which we haven't yet talked about but which will radically change production methods. We'll have to stop growing maize everywhere, and irrigating it, because we'll no longer have water reserves if rainfall changes. Clearly it won't work. So there needs to be resilience, of the soil, in farming practices, and therefore farming that is consistent with the environment: farming practices that make it possible to bind the soil, to cultivate in a way that consumes only what the farm produces rather than importing 85% of vegetable proteins from outside Europe, which is completely absurd. Short circuits, and obviously, developing agriculture that is more respectful. 



IWE Berlin, 14.09.2015



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