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A fairer future for farmers is a greener future


Addressing the inequities at the heart of our food system is necessary for both farmers and climate action

European farmers have been taking to the streets to protest untenable levels of hardship. From increasing production costs and administrative burden to unfair competition, low wages and climate change, the future looks challenging for the guardians of the countryside.

It’s well known that many farmers are the first victims of a broken system which exploits both people and nature. Hundreds of thousands of family farms disappear every year across Europe and are replaced by large agricultural enterprises. With them, many young people leave the countryside in search of a better future.

Decades of harmful subsidies and overly market-driven policies have rewarded large agricultural enterprises, supermarkets, and agrochemical companies at the expense of farmers and the rural economy as well as our environment.

Our farmers and rural areas deserve better. This is why we have partnered with farmers organisations – including European Coordination Via Campesina, an association of small and medium holder farmers, and IFOAM-Organics Europe, a federation of organic farmers – which have called on the EU not to abandon the Green Deal but to show them more support in the transition.

The climate community stands with farmers too. That’s why many of our NGO partners have joined the protests, helping to find ways to build climate-resilient and nature-friendly food systems that put farmers and rural communities at their heart.

After all, just as there is no food without farmers, there is no farming without nature and a stable climate. In recognition of this, WWF EU and the European Environmental Bureau are just two of the organisations which have showed solidarity with the protesters calling for a transition which rewards rather than penalises farmers. As WWF EU put it, the message is clear: “By sacrificing critical environmental measures, policy-makers are barking up the wrong tree, and harming the long-term resilience and viability of Europe’s farming sector in the process.”

The European Green Deal should be an opportunity to protect farmers’ livelihoods while also guaranteeing a future for future generations. Healthier soils and ecosystems, reliable water retention and an array of pollinator species are preconditions for both food production and human wellbeing. Farmers know this best. The latest polling from our partners Collectif Nourrir, Terra Nova and Parlons Climat in France shows that the large majority of farmers don’t oppose the green transition, with over 60% seeing it as a necessity.

What they have been demanding for decades are fair and stable prices to cover production costs at a minimum; a more equitable redistribution of farm subsidies, most of which currently end up in the hands of a few large agricultural enterprises; the end to free trade agreements which maximise profits for agribusiness actors and threaten local producers and food sovereignty; and more financial and administrative support in the roll out of sustainable agricultural practices.

Addressing these issues will be the best way to respond to the legitimate concerns of the protests, while also enabling a green transition that both farmers and consumers need.



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