The end is nearing of the year of FAMILY FARMING. Not many people, even farmers, know about this declaration by UNESCO /IFAD, and that is unfortunate. The declaration is motivated by earlier studies that show that family and small-scale farming is the most sustainable strategy for future food security, but who cares.

Last winter I attended several meetings and workshops at the European Parliament in Brussels, organized by or related to the agricultural and rural development committee. While the Unesco promotes small-scale farming, the direction of EU (and global) policy appears to go toward upscaling, mechanization and increasing industrialization. Several small farmers spoke at these meetings on how they deal with the general lack of support for small farming, for instance through joining a cooperative. In that way, farmers are able to apply for subsidies for which they otherwise don’t qualify (too small).

Working with farmers I hear the same concerns. The rules and regulations seem to punish instead of encourage small-scale farming. Many farmers I spoke to mention the difficulty of maintaining organic certification for instance. It is too expensive, making the difference between being able to produce enough and going out of business. The rules for certification do not always make sense either. For instance, here in Le Marche, the biodynamic practice of using nettle tea is not on the ‘allowed’ list. Using it will result in high penalties for the farmer. Other methods (not necessarily organic) are allowed.

The International Day of Rural Women, (“Invisible Agriculture”) passed without much fuss.

Support small farmers, support women farmers!

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