In the Corona pandemic, the agricultural sector is considered systemically relevant. However, farmers do not feel they are being treated this way. A conversation with Guy Feyder, President of the Chamber of Agriculture, about the perspectives and challenges of the sector.
Lëtzebuerger Journal: Covid-19 will probably be with us for quite a while. How has the agricultural sector come through the crisis so far?
Guy Feyder: The results are rather mixed. After one year, it has to be said that the damage in the meat sector, especially in pork but also in beef, is great. In the case of beef, the cause is clearly to be found in the closure of the restaurants. Unlike milk, consumption was surprisingly not absorbed by supermarket sales. With milk, we somehow got off lightly. Pork producers were additionally affected by the consequences of swine fever. Because Luxembourg is strongly linked to the German market and Germany has lost export markets, especially China, this has caused pressure here. Prices have recovered a little, but it is forced. People are losing money every day. There is also a lot of damage in the wine sector, especially among the big producers, because many festivals and events could not take place and cafés remained closed.
Agriculture was deemed systemically relevant in the Covid 19 crisis. But farmers do not necessarily feel that they are treated in this way. More and more bureaucracy, laws and regulations or a top-down policy are some of the criticisms they make. Do you see it that way too?
I have to totally agree. In the past, the Chamber of Agriculture, the official representation of farmers, winegrowers and gardeners, was the privileged interlocutor of the government, we have heard that more than once. Today we see that the agricultural sector is being neglected. The farmers feel this. For them, it has more to do with the political and social debate. We also feel it in the institutional conversation. Agriculture is clearly undervalued in the political perception. That is simply the way it is. We noticed this especially in the process of drafting the Agrarian Law. The "Chambre d'Agriculture" went through a lot of trouble to formulate its point of view, as it does with every new edition of the agricultural law. We then had to realise that virtually nothing of it was retained. This is the measure of public perception. This erosion should be stopped urgently, because it contradicts the fact that the sector is systemically relevant. A year ago, the shelves were empty for a few days and everyone wondered where our farmers were. We became visible because the goods were missing. As long as we work every day and make sure that the markets are well supplied, which should honour the sector, it is not taken into account.
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"Agriculture is clearly undervalued"
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