The farmers’ forum calls for a Flemish farmers’ plan

WWho has an interest in driving the people who provide our food to despair with hollow campaigns and leaked documents proposing regulations that make no sense? In any case, the policy and most organizations that claim to have good intentions for farmers are completely wrong with this MAP-7, as with the CAP, the programmatic approach to nitrogen, carbon credits and so on.

After 10 years of MestActionPlan, it became clear that this approach does not work. For a moment we had a bright spot with the business advisors in the Flemish Land Administration, who gave us cooperation instead of control and fines. But this was quickly discarded by our Minister of Agriculture, and a further effort was made for extra NER-D provided for fertilizer treatment – and for the rest: reprisals.

Too many rules

And so even with these leaked proposals, we remain stuck with end-of-pipe solutions. Instead of working together in harmony with nature – unpredictable but abundant and generous when respected in its capriciousness – these ‘solutions’ force us to work with numbers, rules and accounting. There are now too many to name and we curse them daily.

The proposals that have just been leaked make absolutely no sense and only serve to drive farmers onto the streets for the wrong reasons: As draft horses for the agro-industry, the banks and the utility companies. They have made agriculture a business model for themselves. A revenue model that will never give farmers a decent price, that will never allow us to responsibly produce decent food for the people around the farm.

It is very clear to us that almost any external input sold from the cart we pull is harmful to our farm. Harmful to our business operations, our soil, plants and animals and toxic to farmers. Disasters like the PFAS crisis show time and time again that the neoliberal economic model endangers our environment and the people who work in it.

Mopping with open tap

It seems more lucrative to mop than to turn off the tap, but what we need for all these crises are source-oriented solutions. And let that be exactly what we don’t hear about. What we need to do is identify and tackle pollution at its source:

– The pointless import of soya (nitrogen) and export of meat, from which everyone makes a lot of money except farmers and consumers, and this in both the south and the north;

– The senseless hauling of food that ensures that you find potatoes from Israel in Flanders Patattenland;

– The processing industry, the retail trade, supermarkets,… that destroyed the short chain: there is no longer a local shop, dairy, butcher, bakery that helps the farmer to market his products locally;

– Supply of capital and subsidies (such as VLIF) which constantly pressure the farmer to invest and scale up, with the only result that investors earn more and farmers less;

– The depletion of the earth by monocultures imposed on us by industry;

– The technofix with air scrubbers, fertilizer treatment, methane-reducing pills, carbon credits, … which above all ensures a good revenue model for the industry, but otherwise does not ‘fix’ anything for the environment;

– Fossil fuels, chemicals, fertilizers and ever-increasing machines that respect, stain and kill soil, plants and animals. The profit is for the multinational corporations, the death is for the farmer;

– An excessively large herd, which our environment cannot support and is imposed on us because we do not get a fair price for our food production;

– A market with supply and demand, with a global system with more fictitious supply than demand, so we cannot demand a fair price for our products.

Implement transition

And now that the problems have been solved, it should be clear: We don’t need solutions that keep this harmful farming model on track. Now, today, we must initiate the transition. Today there must be a plan that goes back to the source and allows us to work for the future of farmers. Not to solve the problems of tomorrow, but to enable a future for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Flemish Farmer Plan

In July, like in the Netherlands, we called for a Flemish Farmers’ Plan with solutions that tackle our problems at source and take the step towards a new, solid, high-quality agricultural model. We repeat the call to all farmers, farmers and farm workers to put their shoulders to the wheel.

Farmers’ Forum

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