For several years, the countries of the European Union have seen a growing civic movement warning that the current mode of agriculture is contributing to climate change and environmental degradation. In October, some 90 various events were held in 24 European countries under the shared slogan “Good Food Good Farming”.
On 22 October, over a thousand people demonstrated in Strasbourg demanding urgent and radical change to the European agricultural policy. The Good Food Good Farming movement, which organised the protest, also appealed to all Members of the European Parliament.
Four tractors headed the demonstration, with the march including farmers, beekeepers, environmental and consumer organisations, activists and ordinary citizens. The demonstration in Strasbourg, on the French–German border, was the culmination of a month of action promoting more sustainable farming. Around 90 different events took place across 24 European countries, all under the slogan “Good Food Good Farming”.
The demonstration was accompanied by the clanging of pots and lids, which has become a symbol of the movement. It ended at the European Parliament building, where there was a meeting with two politicians, Tilly Metz (a Luxembourg MEP from the Greens) and Maria Noichl (a German MEP from the Socialists and Democrats). Both endorsed the demands of Good Food Good Farming and stressed the need for work to further reform the CAP. They were presented with postcards on which citizens from all over Europe had written their expectations of the European food and agriculture system.
An appeal demanding reform of the CAP and signed by 23 organisations was submitted to the entire European Parliament. The letter emphasised the fact that the present agricultural policy principally serves large corporations and farmers that own the largest farms. Civic movements and organisations are demanding above all that the European Union end the system of direct payments based on farm size, and replace it with subsidies for farming that supports the environment and rural communities and that protects animal welfare and the climate. One key slogan is “public money for public services”.
For several years there has been a growing civic movement in the EU warning that, in its current form, agriculture is contributing to climate change and degrading the environment: insects – including pollinating insects – are dying off, biodiversity is decreasing, soils are becoming sterile, waters are being contaminated. At the same time, conditions are worsening for small and medium-sized farmers, whose numbers are falling dramatically.
Already, seven European countries have national coalitions of various organisations that have joined forces to change the CAP. In Poland, it is Koalicja Żywa Ziemia (Living Earth Coalition). There are also similar platforms in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.
Poland’s Żywa Ziemia coalition held three events as part of the Action Days. Michaelmas was celebrated in Grzybów with the screening of a film about Polish pioneers in organic farming, and there was an ecological market in Katowice and a happening in Warsaw. The October 18 event at Warsztat Warszawski (Warsaw Workshop) began with making a meal from local and seasonal products with the Kooperatywa Dobrze cooperative.
Joanna Bojczewska, co-founder of Ruch Suwerenności Żywnościowej Nyeleni Polska (the Nyeleni Poland Food Sovereignty Movement), gave a lecture on soil – how it is under threat from modern agricultural practices and how it can be protected by various activities in towns and in the countryside. The lecture was followed by an educational activist picket led by Ewa Sufin-Jacquemart, accompanied by spoons and lids ringing out against pots and pans. There were also talks by Weronika Kosin of WWF on the impact that agriculture is having on the state of the Baltic Sea, and by Ben Lazar on permaculture. The event ended with a concert by the band Kompost.