ARC Newsflash – October 2014

Dear friends and supporters of Arc2020,
“A window was opened in what has been for 50 years the Cathedral of the Green revolution”. So said José Graziano De Silvia, Director General of the FAO at the International Agroecology Symposium recently. It did seem like a momentous moment, coupled with French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll backing of Agroecology that very week too.

And yet, a few days later, the global high-level agri-food agenda had moved onto Climate Smart Agriculture – the other CSA. And lo, it came to pass that a broad, strong agroecology – the kind we promote in our project with Friends of the Earth Europe –  will have to struggle for the limelight against this bells and whistles version of business-as-usual. Attila Szocs of Eco Ruralis explains the issues with the other CSA in more detail later on in this newsletter.

Later on too you’ll get our take on Phil Hogan – AG Commissioner designate – and what was gleaned from the European Organic Congress regarding the Organic Regulation. In particular inadvertent pesticide contamination – who foots the bill? An outlining too of the (partially successful) 1000 Vaches (cows) campaign features.

Indeed we’ve seen French farmers return to militancy, with occupations of Cargill and the torching of a tax office over price drops brought on by the Russian trade ban.

Our focus returned to Romania too, where civil disobedience on a more micro scale saw peasants returning to trade at the Hudein market. We examined in detail the Rural Development spend in that country, and saw plans for blllions to be spent in such a way as to most likely drive peasants off the land.

The omnipresent TTIP began and ended our month, from Endocrine Disruptors to the rejection of a citizen’s initiative to calls for greater transparency by the Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly.

Some more highlights from September:
Four key agri-food policy needs (from Oliver Moore’s contribution at the European Organic Congress)
Community Supported Agriculture in China (with Urgenci’s Judith Hitchman, who visited there recently)
FarmStart Manchester (A great agroecology initiative to help with land access and learning)
Where does your meat come from? (Meat regulations)

Don’t forget we have a regularly updated newsticker – Revolving doors, TTIP, goats and CAP recently feature – our 2000m² project, and we are very active on both facebook and twitter. Do join in on our conversations, make suggestions and use us as your platform, a platform to help build a better more coherent agri-food policy for Europe.

Welcome to our October newsletter!

Dr. Oliver Moore –
Communications Manager

Luise Körner –
Communications team

Climate-Smart Agriculture: a climate change fairytale

The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture was just officially formed in September including more than 20 governments, 30 organizations and corporations. Many of them with activities resulting in hard social impacts on farmers and communities, such as those driving land grabbing or promoting genetically modified seeds, including companies like Yara (the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturer), Syngenta, McDonald’s, Walmart and Kelloggs. The alliance is out hunting for more partners from research institutions and civil society organizations to corporate actors. Hundreds of civil society representatives and peasant organizations read between the “climate smart” lines since the beginning. Find the answer to why Climate-Smart Agriculture is silly here.

Who is new Agri Commissioner Phil Hogan? An exclusive insight

At the beginning of September we took a closer look at the past of Europe’s new Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan. The Irish man from the right-wing Fine Gael Party, part of the European People’s Party, should certainly keep the proponents of so called sustainable intensification happy. Consistently, both in opposition and in government in Ireland, Phil Hogan has argued for intensification of farming and against stronger environmental protections. That he has been, both in opposition and in government, spokesperson for and then Minister for the Environment makes this all more significant. The article on our website offers exclusive insights on the track records of Europe’s new Commissioner for Agriculture.

New Organic Regulation Causing Temperatures to Rise

One of the main themes which emerged from the 8th European Organic Congress, which ARC2020 co-organised, was producer concern over the proposed new organic regulation. Organic farmers, lawyers who represent them, certification bodies, trade unions and IFOAM as an organisation all voiced concerns about many aspects of the proposed regulation. Our article takes a closer look at the proposals for no allowance for mixed organic and conventional holdings and the hot topic of the week: accidental or inadvertent contamination. The organic food system is, inevitably, longer, more complicated and more interconnected than ever before. Learn about the biggest point of discussion during the Congress here.

Upcoming Events and Policy Dates

October 2-5 “We are fed up!” congress for good food and good farming, Berlin, Germany

October 11 European Day of Action against TTIP, CETA & TiSA, all over Europe

October 11 The Great Seed Festival, London and around the UK

October13 Agriculture and Fisheries Council Meeting, Luxembourg

October 14 TTIP: What implications for Africa? Brussels, Belgium

October 26-27 The Nordic Organic Food Fair, Malmö, Sweden

October 27-28 The Role of Foundations in Supporting Family Farming Brussels, Belgium

October 28 Environment Council Meeting Luxembourg

Find all events listed on ARC2020 here.

What’s the story of the 1000 cows in France?

In a guest post, Urgenci’s Judith Hitchman outlines the recent 1000 cows story in France – a story of protest, occupation, and some success so far. In their protest against the building of a large-scale dairy farm holding 1000 cows and more than 750 calfs, Confédération Paysanne has already carried out two separate occupations of the farm: the first in September 2013, the second in May 2014. In September this year 150 cows were smuggled into the factory farm, and production began. The activists blockade of the farm prevented milk from being brought out of the farm and delivered to the dairy processing plant. Their demands are simple: they are requesting a fresh environmental, social and economic impact study on increasing the size of the herd, and a reduction of the methaniser. The strong opposition to the large-scale dairy farm by Confédération Paysanne (the French branch of the Via Campesina) is outlined here.