Friends of the Earth Europe, ARC2020 and IFOAM EU Group's 'Good Food Good Farming' conference this week brought together more than 150 civil society members, policymakers and farmers to find solutions to fix Europe's broken food system and to take up the task of making organic, local and sustainable farming the rule, rather than the exception, across Europe.
Much of the debate revolved around how best to work with the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – which runs until 2020 – to support sustainable local food solutions. Participants were able to plan how best to support the transition of food and agricultural systems based on agro-ecological approaches using the CAP and beyond across four issue-specific workshops.
A workshop on CAP reform focused on how develop tools and structures to support agro-ecological food production and decent livelihoods for farmers. This would in part be achieved by improving access to land for new farmers and making farming a valued and attractive profession, both of which are among the many barriers to sustainable local farming.
Participants at the trade and markets workshop discussed the threats to sustainable agriculture that come from comprehensive free trade agreements, such as the EU-US trade deal currently under negotiation, and how best to shift the dialogue around agricultural markets to enhance local food systems.
The sustainable diets workshop suggested new food policies based on accurate research on food production and consumption, while bridging the gap between urban and rural areas using local initiatives like city food policy councils and public procurement.
Finally, the sustaining rural communities and natural resources workshop discussed improving agricultural knowledge within different communities, and creating more community supported agriculture organisations, while ensuring transparency along the food chain though labeling and traceability.
The conference also saw the launch of a brochure and video series bringing together the best examples of agroecological farming initiatives from across Europe, with examples from Poland and France to Greece and Ireland. The case studies make interesting reading for farmers interested in moving towards agro-ecological approaches, as well as providing clear ideas to governments for agricultural change.
"This brochure and these videos give some clear indications for the priorities governments should have, if they are serious about making good use of public money for supporting and scaling up an agroecological transition" said Stanka Becheva, Food and Agriculture Campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe.