Why local food matters

Guest post by Simone Matouch of Forum Synergies

“Finding the right balance between hygiene rules, small scale production and quality” – that’s the big challenge, especially for small scale producers of high quality food.

There is a growing interest from farmers and consumers in local food.  The European Union is also promoting local food systems, but EU legislation on hygiene rules, which is also implemented in accession countries, has already led to the closing of small dairies and slaughterhouses in many regions. Ever-growing investment costs are required as a pre-requisite to meet hygienic standards for on-farm food processing are pushing more and more farmers of local food out of production. This process is accelerating, and severely counteracts the growing demand for local high quality food.

The implementation of existing EU legislation on hygiene rules has created very heterogenic implementation on the ground. It is designed primarily for industrial food processing, but leaves a considerable margin of manoeuvre for the national, regional and local food authorities. So local food production can be dealt with in an appropriate way!  However, in most Member States and accession countries of the EU, this flexibility is rarely applied, thus forcing many producers of traditional quality food out of business. That’s the starting point of our international conference “Local Food Matters!”

Taking place in Macedonia – in the heart of the Western Balkan region -we will analyse potential threats and opportunities for local and sustainable food systems in a region which is preparing for accession. The conference is co-organised by Forum Synergies and Slow Food Bitola in cooperation with PREPARE, Terra Madre Balkan, The Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group South Eastern Europe (SWG) and the Essedra project.

You can find more detailed information on the Forum Synergies website.