Shock treatment, a completely different way of thinking in agriculture, is what is needed in the future.
Between resigned fatalists who believe the market is self-sufficient, and those who are nostalgic about the feudal system when submissive, protected peasants did not know the real stakes at issue, agriculture has been abandoned. There is a general indifference to the problem. This capitulation in rural areas is irresponsible. In Europe, farmers are disappearing: a slow death where people are becoming less and less autonomous in producing their own food and where one of the fundamental elements of our civilisation is gradually disappearing.
The unrestrained liberalisation of agricultural exchange, according to World Bank dogma, was supposed to bring about a good development cycle for all world agriculture. However, it has led only to disaster, including in the United States where two-thousand hectare farms cannot function without aid from the American government.
Everywhere prices are falling, and incomes too. The dogma, however, continues to wreak havoc. As if any reassessment, or any criticism of the present system were economically incorrect or a result of head-on anti-capitalist or anti-liberal discussions.
Do we have to wait for famine to strike again in Africa, for an uprising in Latin America, a peasant revolt in Europe before we face reality?
Travelling around the world, I see this swing towards agriculture without peasant farmers every day. Agriculture without any aim other than satisfying the insatiable appetite of hedge funds. “Financialised” agriculture which functions by economic and social dumping and destabilising subsistence or family farming.
This is why, with several leaders from the agricultural world and public figures such as Xavier Emmanuelli, former Secretary of State for humanitarian issues, or Pierre Fabre, chairman and managing director of Pierre Fabre Laboratories, we have founded a Movement in the hope of stirring people’s consciences.
Its objective: to found a World Organization for Agriculture (WOagri) which will finally put agricultural stakes at the heart of economic reflection and political decision-making.
Ambitious? Excessive? Just urgent.
I hear some people say that it is too late, that the profession, just like our politicians, gave up long ago! I also hear mocking remarks made by the narrow-minded and those with little imagination that our movement is too utopian.
But I think, and I quote Victor Hugo, that “this utopia will be tomorrow’s truth”!
There are many examples in history which demonstrate that systems we thought to be well established could in fact change.
It is time to set up regulation systems which will correct markets excesses and increase the benefits linked to the liberalisation of international exchanges.
I would like to remind you first that the market is the driving force of the economy just as democracy is in politics. But an open market without rules is like a democracy without laws, in other words a dangerous jungle for many.
These observations are shared today by many people in both the agricultural sector and other sectors of the economy!
I would like to take the opportunity, with the launching of the official WOAgri website, to call on those who do not understand the current evolution of the liberal system, to join us in giving us their personal accounts and suggestions.
Our website www.woagri.org, which will be both a think tank and a ratings agency, will pass on your comments to others.
Our website will regularly publish WOAgri’s standpoint (analyses, opinions, recommendations and alerts) in order to make as many people as possible (government officials, NGOs, political decision-makers, financial organisations, professionals from the world of agriculture and agro-food, media…) aware of the reality of the economic imbalance of social, environmental and sanitary dumping… .
These situations will prefigure those of the simulation and ratings agency which will begin to function in 2007.
> This information website will also present WOagri’s proposals in favour of a world governance and regulation of agriculture.
Regulation is the solution to ensure that the liberalisation of agricultural exchanges does not create collateral damage and does not cause the disappearance of world agriculture spread harmoniously over all continents, which is the only way to guarantee the independence and security of food supplies for member states.
For this to happen, we want agriculture to be removed from the framework of the WTO. This organisation, which is exclusively responsible for the liberalisation of world trade, is not able to deal with agricultural problems involving strategic matters such as the fight against poverty, food sovereignty and the preservation of the environment.
It is even more urgent since the WTO’s decisions only apply to agricultural production involving international exchange, that is 10% of the total world agricultural production, which could have irreversible consequences on the whole of the world’s active agricultural population, that is 1.34 billion people (43% of the world’s active population).
When will we realise that this situation is absurd and irresponsible and that it is necessary to take agriculture out of the WTO’s domain?
> Our website will keep you permanently informed of the construction of WOAgri’s new international agricultural model called the NAR model, founded on the game theory.
Existing economic models (cf. WOAgri’s report “International agricultural models on the test bench”) have in fact a simplified and imperfect vision which does not take into account the specific and strategic characteristics of agriculture. They distort the vision of the political decision-makers and justify unadapted strategies which have serious consequences for all humanity, strategies which underlie the gradual abandoning of the CAP and WTO negotiations.
This is why a team of economists has been working for several months on this project with the aim to establish the first decision aid model in the establishment of agricultural policies.
> Finally, an analysis of personal experiences will be regularly featured on our website so that people can contribute their knowledge and vision of the future of agriculture, and the future of the planet. We will give special priority to Europe which we hope will acquire a real agricultural strategy as a supplement to the CAP reforms determined at the Luxemburg agreement in June 2003.
Without challenging the necessity of a CAP reform, we denounce the dismantling of the only integrated policy in the European Union which is again based on a false appreciation of the economic reality.
Did you know that agriculture is the economic sector that receives the least subsidies (automobile, aeronautic, railway transport, health…)?
However, against it is the fact that this sector is far more visible than the others, as it is the only integrated European policy: everyone has access to information on the amount of subsidies it receives.
Although the agricultural budget is 40% of the community budget, you must remember that it is only 1% of the GDP of the member States. Therefore, by devoting 0.4% of the community GDP, Europe backs a sector of activity (agriculture, agri-food) which represents 15% of the GDP.
Consequently, knowing that the average compulsory contributions of the European States is between 45 and 55% of the GDP, we can see that agriculture represents less than 1% of public contributions.
And yet the system has gone mad:
Did you know that on my farm, I produce enough food to feed more than 1,000 people, but without aid from the European Union, I couldn’t even feed myself? Also, did you know that with the last CAP reform almost all links between this aid and our agricultural production have disappeared?
Other “justifications” are developing: ecoconditionality, animal welfare… These only make matters worse by complicating bureaucracy which destroys agriculture without necessarily taking up the big agricultural, food or environmental challenges.
There is no more long-term vision in our profession based on past know-how and the ability to innovate which is essential to the future of communities. To accept the weakening of the agriculture system and its producers is to accept that most of our food in the future will be imported from a few big producing countries: to accept that we will have to rely on their goodwill in an unstable world. This is surely not the best guarantee of quality or quantity of food for our people.
This project is ambitious, but it is necessary for the development of world peace. I am honoured to be the Chairman of WOAgri and would like to thank again all those who have participated in the founding of our movement and who commit themselves courageously to this battle.
Chairman of WOAgri