This from a recent mail out from the Land Workers Alliance (La Via Campesina UK)
An AGM in the Canary Islands
After our meeting at Ruskin Mill, three members went to the AGM of the European co-ordination of La Via Campesina (ECVC). ECVC represents 28 producer-led organisations from Europe and is the regional co-ordinating forum for La Via Campesina. They run an office in Brussels and work to keep members informed of what is happening the corridors of the EU while representing their interests in lobbying and advocacy.
On returning from the AGM Humphrey, a grower at edible futures in Bristol, said:
“This was a unique event bringing together representatives of farmer’s organisations from across Europe. We were brought face to face with the inspiring workings of this international movement: ‘We have the dexterity of an organisation combined with the courage of a social movement’ Julia, a farmer from Germany told us”.
“Whilst the struggle for the small farmer can seem overwhelming in this world of increasing industrialisation of agriculture, here, in the grassroots farmers’ movement, hope can be found. Christian of Conferation Paysanne, France told us: ‘There are 12 million of us in Europe alone. We’re stronger but we think we’re weaker, we must take risks we must not be afraid.”
During the AGM we presented our case for membership, supported by position papers on a set of issues identified as key during the Ruskin mill meeting. Our application was accepted and we are now candidate members for a year, engaging in the workings of the organisations, and full members when the year is up.
Our intention now is to build our membership in the UK and lobby at the UK and EU levels on issues affecting us. Initially our campaigns will be focussed around the key points of Access to land, Seeds and GM, Agricultural policy and CAP reform, Skills and Education sharing, Research and Livestock regulation. We will keep members informed and engaged with the campaigning work, whilst finding ways to help members actively input alongside the graft of land-based work.
What is La Via Campesia?
La Via Campesina is an international union of peasant producers. It is now 20 years old and brings together organisations from 78 countries with a combined total of well over 200 million members. La Via Campesina lobbies hard to defend and advocate for small-scale producers.
In the few weeks since the AGM, the European co-ordination Via Campesina has had positive results from two hard and protracted lobbying efforts in the EU. The first being the partial ban on neonicotinoids on the 29th April and the second being last minute revisions of the Plant Reproductive Materials law proposed on the 6th May. Neither of these can be seen as complete victories, but both point clearly to the power of public pressure and the effects that greater unity and concerted political action in the defence of small-scale growers and farmers can have.
It is issues that these that form the staple of the work, alongside actions to defend members, and attempts to create agricultural policy that supports small-scale producers and works towards food sovereignty.
Membership is now open for the Landworkers Alliance. Sign up to support the work being done and to participate in the growth of this movement. Membership is £25 per year for individuals, more for larger organisations.
See www.landworkersalliance.org.uk for more information and a membership form. Alternatively email us landworkersalliance [at] riseup.net
We need to build membership to carry on this work. Sign up now and spread the word.
More information about La Via Campesina international: www.viacampesina.org/en / In Europe www.eurovia.org/?lang=en and here in the UK / www.landworkersalliance.org.uk and www.crofting.org