A farming model on its last legs

By Audrey Somnard Switch to French for original article

The agricultural crisis has brought European farmers out onto the streets to complain that they are finding it difficult to make a living from their work. We wanted to take a step back and understand what is at stake in this crisis.

Tractors on the Champs-Élysées, in the vicinity of the Bundestag – the farmers' demonstrations may have spared the Grand Duchy, but the profession is angry across Europe. They are protesting against a system that is too bureaucratic and, for some of them, prevents them from making a living from their profession. Production is heavily subsidised by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), but low-cost imported products are outstripping local production. It's a powerful argument, given the proliferation of free trade agreements over the last few decades. The liberal approach to agriculture has made it possible to modernise the sector, expand farms and promote exports of our products. Small-scale production in the countries of the South has been unable to compete with subsidised production.

The NGO SOS Faim Luxembourg points out that "the origin of this phenomenon stems from globalisation", explains its director Thierry Defense. "In reality, it's not so much a question of trade, because farmers have always been traders. He produces, then sells his produce in the hope of earning money and feeding his family. This principle is universal. The problem lies in the fact that agriculture has been regarded as a good and a service like any other, and has been completely globalised. The rules of the WTO, the World Trade Organisation, instead of regulating trade, have disrupted it. For example, European producers often denounce the import of products from Australia or New Zealand as favouring these imports. However, New Zealand authorises the use of pesticides and inputs that the European Union prohibits for its own producers."

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