Let’s Change The Agriculture Policy Of The European Union!

European & International Call
Let’s change the agriculture policy of the European Union !
We, European farmers, are jeopardised by the current agricultural policy of the enlarged European Union (EU)-our existence is being threatened.

We, European citizens, as consumers and taxpayers, are the victims of this damaging policy. We are impacted by the quality of food and other products produced by industrial agriculture; the environmental damage; the welfare of animals under industrial production; employment opportunities in rural communities (EU will significantly decrease the number of farms and concentrate agricultural production in certain regions); and by uneven financing (EU agriculture budget is unfairly distributed between farms, sectors and countries),
We, United States farmers, are victims of a similar dumping-based agricultural policy as those of other exporting countries including the EU. US farm policy has no minimum price floor so prices are depressed and no reserve policy to help stabilize supply. We need a supply management program where our farm prices are based on cost of production to replace the current system that forces farmers to plant fencerow-to-fencerow and watch our cheap corn and soybeans become feed for corporate livestock factories.

We, farmers from Africa, Latin America and Asia, are prevented from producing food crops because of imports at low prices coming from the European Union (EU) or United States (USA). As a result, we are the first group to suffer from hunger, poverty, often having to leave our communities.

We, farmers from all over the world, are the victims of overproduction designed to drop farm prices. We are hurt by the artificially low prices maintained on international markets and by market deregulation-both of which are currently controlled by the interests of trans-national corporations.

declare that the current Common Agriculture Policy • is illegitimate at both European and international levels, • destroys employment in rural communities, • should be reformed to address the needs of farmers and citizens (and not those of agri-business and industry),
declare that another European agricultural policy is possible,
declare that farmers and citizens together will be able to force their governments to change agricultural policies,
declare today we will launch a European and international campaign to this end,
Let us save the farmers Let us save our food Let us save our landscapes Let us save the planet ./..

Why do we urgently need to change the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) ?
The collapse of the Cancun negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) last September has clearly brought to light the deadlock taken by the European Union as it reforms the CAP. The CAP needs to restore its international credibility and legitimacy. With the end of the peace clause at WTO, the EU is likely to face a series of complaints, which will force the EU to review the CAP reform, mainly conceived for the WTO negotiations: The Common Agricultural Policy adopted in June 2003, followed by the reform of some Mediterranean products in April 2004, contrary to the allegations of the European Institutions, does not blame either productivism or dumping of the European Union. The EU and the USA simply moved their support for exporting at low prices, by replacing the export subsidies by decoupled direct payments (WTO green box).

The result is clear:

  • Supply at low price of the food industry and supermarkets,
  • Very strong reduction of farmers’ number in Europe,
  • Often low quality work circumstances for farm workers,
  • Export towards third countries of surpluses at low prices, that ruin local agriculture economies.

By ignoring the several million small farms of Central Europe, this CAP negatively impacts both the economy and social situation for millions of farmers. Without admitting it, the EU is initiating a major dis-location of the agricultural production on other continents by European agribusiness companies : this process has already begun .

Let us change its priorities : Let us apply to the European Union the principle of food sovereignty* to achieve a legitimate, sustainable and supportive CAP.
The following must be done :

  • To develop sustainable family farming in Europe which gives priority to the supply of Europe’s internal market,
  • To recognize the work of the farmers through farm prices linked with the production costs,
  • To organize the supply management of agricultural production ,
  • To develop sustainable (socially and environmentally) production methods,
  • To recover a better European autonomy regarding animal feedstuffs, especially for vegetable proteins and oilseeds,
  • To support and favor the regional markets and the local processing of products,
  • To supply quality and safe agricultural products,
  • To develop a lively countryside based mainly on small and medium-sized farms: farmers want « rather neighbours than hectares» on the whole EU territory, included the less favoured areas (mountains or others),
  • To give priority to the settlement of young farmers,
  • To replace competition by solidarity as economical and social principle of the EU to 25.
  • To negotiate new rules for a dumping-free international agricultural trade.

The organisations signing hereunder call the farmers’ organisations in the North and in the South, as well as the other associations from civil society, to campaign together to force our governments and our international authorities to change the EU agriculture policy and to enter into mutually supportive agriculture and trade policies.

* Food sovereignty is the peoples’, Countries’ or State Unions’ RIGHT to define their agricultural and food policy, without any dumping vis-à-vis third countries.(Via Campesina)

First Signatories
CPE* European Farmers Coordination: Belgique FUJA-Front Uni des Jeunes Agriculteurs,VAC-Vlaams Agrarisch Centrum, MAP- Mouvement d’Action Paysanne. Deutschland ABL-Arbeits-gemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft, BDM-Bundesverband Deutscher Milchviehhalter Estado Español SLG- Sindicato Labrego Galego, EHNE- Euskal Herriko Nekazarien Elkartasuna, UAGR-Union de Agricultores y Ganaderos de Rioja, Plataforma Rural- France CONFédération Paysanne, MODEF-Confédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Familiaux- Italia ARI-Associazione Rurale Italiana, Foro Contadino- Luxemburg FLB-Fräie Lëtzebuerger Baureverband- Nederland- KLB-Kritisch Landbouw-beraad- Norge NBS-Norske Bonde og Smabrukarlag- Österreich-ÖBV-Österreichische Bergbauernvereinigung- Portugal -CNA-Confederação Nacional da Agricultura- Suisse- Uniterre, VKMB-Vereinigung zum Schutz der kleinen und mittleren Bauern- Sverige- Nordbruk- United Kingdom -FFA- Family Farmers’ Association- Magyar-MAGOSZ-Magyar Gazdakörök Es Gazdaszövetkezetek Szövetsege- Malta- ATB-Assocjazzjoni Tal-Bdiewa Europe-MIJARC-Mouvement International de Jeunesse Agricole et rurale catholique.
COAG* Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos (España)
SOC* Sindicato de Obreros del Campo (Andalucia- España)
NFFC* National Family Farm Coalition (United States)
FSPI* Federation of Peasant Union of Indonesia
MST* Movimiento Sem Terra (Brasil)
ROPPA Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et des Producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest
Platform ABC (Nederland): NMV-Dutch Dairyfarmers Union, NAJK-Dutch Agrarian Youngsters, NAV-Dutch Arable farmers Union, WLA-Workinggroup on Agriculture and poverty, Point of support for National Female Farmers Concerns, Foundation Hands off milkleasing, KLB- Critical Agriculture Council, Association on Organic Agriculture and Nutrition.

* = member of Via Campesina

Brussels, May 24, 2004