dimanche 29 mars 2020

147- Thank you farmer, for filling our pantry


Under this title (¡Gracias, agricultor, por llenar nuestra despensa!), José Antonio Arcos, Spanish journalist specialized in agricultural information, very focused on Spain and Europe, published a few days ago a praise for farmers on his web page, which I recommend to anyone interested in agriculture and food production.

For several weeks, with the current Covid-19 crisis, we have all been very aware and grateful for the incredible work of all medical corps, often carried out in difficult and even sometimes precarious conditions, with enormous dedication in these particularly hard times that we are going through.

José Antonio Arcos wanted to remind us that farmers continue to produce the food we need, and that thanks to their daily labor and despite the situation of confinement, we have quality food day after day, although economic life of our countries is almost paralyzed.

I want to join in this praise, as a consumer and also as a farmer. Thank you all.
Thank you also to all the agricultural workers who continue their hard work in the fields despite the so tense situation that we live. Without you, many farms would be shut down, despite the goodwill of the farmers.

Personal picture

"If we can stay locked up at home for a fortnight and the days which will follow with the full pantry, it is thanks to the farmers. It is thanks to the primary sector - whether fishermen, breeders or farmers - that we can avoid hunger and despair in a situation like the one we are experiencing in Spain because of the coronavirus. There is no starvation because there is food. There is food because there are producers (farmers, ranchers and fishermen).

Thanks to the work of the men and women of the Emptied Spain*, we all eat. Emptied or Empty Spain, rural Spain gives life to urban Spain and to each table on which a plate is placed. They are my heroes.

Promote food sovereignty.

Perhaps now the millions of Spaniards living on the margins of agriculture and of the different sectors of activity in the agricultural world will understand the concept of food sovereignty. These two words that farmers and ranchers throughout Spain have been shouting in the streets during these past few weeks are not empty of content.

Food sovereignty means the ability of a nation to be self-sufficient. The best example can be seen these days in which millions of consumers have made massive purchases of food and have found products with which to fill their baskets. Those products, these foods, are not born by spontaneous generation in a supermarket or in a greengrocer, those foods without which nothing would be possible are produced by a farmer. He is its creator.

This food sovereignty has an even deeper meaning in crisis situations such as the current one, due to the coronavirus, in the face of hypothetical limitations or border closings. Food sovereignty allows a country, regardless of what may occur abroad, to be able to feed its population.

Thank you farmer and rancher, people of the land. Thank you fisherman, man of the sea.

When we get out of this pandemic (COVID-19), because surely we will all overcome the virus together, when it happens (it will happen) please remember that we cannot drop our primary sector, which is the one that feeds us. It is a priority.

As well as many are now being able to understand what food sovereignty is, they will also understand why farmers are a strategic sector.

Without agriculture, nothing (‘Sine agriculture, nihil‘). They are my heroes. An applause for all of them”.

* The term Emptied Spain (España Vaciada) has developed in recent months to illustrate the effects of the rural exodus, of the demographic and economic explosion of large cities in the country, and the lack of economic, technical and technological resources from which rural areas suffer more and more, without any apparent political will to influence this tendency. It is also a movement to claim rights for these immense regions, essential to the food sovereignty of the country, and abandoned by successive governments.
** Sine agricultura, nihil is the motto of the Spanish agronomist engineer’s corps.

This crisis could prove to be the revealer of the inadequate policies of the last decades, which have seen the industrial, craft and agricultural fabric change profoundly in industrialized countries.
Markets in rich countries have turned into a vast price battlefield, forcing many primary and secondary activities and companies to disappear or seek salvation in countries where costs are much lower, albeit much more distant. At the same time, for reasons that I have already explained in several articles, the urban population has lost contact with its agriculture and no longer knows what the work of the countryside is, its requirements and constraints, the risks that the production sector must bear so that all consumers can have access to abundant, diversified and healthy food at all times, at a very affordable price.

But this development has consequences that we are starting to really measure now, in environmental and economic terms of course, and now also in terms of health safety and food sovereignty.

We are currently in the midst of a health crisis. More and more countries are making drastic confinement decisions, more or less realistic depending on the country. The stricter is the confinement order, the more is the number of trades affected.
In Spain, only activities related to health, security, hygiene, communication, energy production and food are still allowed to operate. The other activities now only can operate via telework. We then realize that recreation, tourism, industry and construction are not essential activities. All this can stop, for a few days, a few weeks or a few months, but food, therefore agriculture, remains the basis of survival.
In France, the lack of immigrant labor due to the closure of borders makes certain agricultural work impossible. A call was made a few days ago, and in less than a week, 80,000 urban residents responded. Is it a sudden interest in field work, the desire to flee the city and its promiscuity, the possibility of maintaining an income despite the crisis or the possibility of escaping confinement, which attracts so many people?

What will be left of all this when this health crisis is over?
Who will remember that food sovereignty is not a creation of the mind, but a vital need of any human society?
Will we still be talking about the evolution of European agriculture towards a landscape maintenance activity, the profitability of which does not really matter, provided it is "clean" and politically correct?
Will we then rediscover a healthy, non-ideological debate on the production of food, the need to develop productive, sustainable, profitable, healthy agriculture, primarily intended for consumption of relative proximity?

Dear reader, if like me, you are confined to your home, you will have time to read.
I therefore cannot resist the urge to join the link of an article originally published on March 19, 2015, that is to say just 5 years ago. Things have really changed little since then.
But the urgency to preserve food sovereignty is always greater.

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