Farmers’ protest, the reaction of the strong powers

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farmers protest

Farmers’ protests are spreading in every country in Europe, even in the UK and now also in India. (1) Family farms and farmers everywhere crushed in the grip of skyrocketing production costs and #underselling are demanding a #fairprice, a decent income to live and feed themselves as well as the planet.

The reaction of the strong powers – the agro-industrial and financial oligarchies, and the politicians at their service – is subtle, with a mix of viral deceptions (to take the target of the protest away from themselves), handouts (aid and tax deductions in abundance, in attempt to ease social tension), infiltrations and #falseflag. As in Italy, the farce of ‘Riscatto Agricolo’.

1) Farmers in protest, mobilizations from Europe to India

Farmers from every corner of Europe blew their trumpets at the beginning of 2024 in Germany, Poland, Romania, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, as we have seen. Last week also in Portugal where thousands of farmers took the complaints book to the streets, (2) in line with the positions already expressed by the international network of La Via Campesina, which includes, among others, the Confédération paysanne (F), FUGEA (B), Assorurale (I).

1.1) Family and peasant agriculture, food sovereignty. The instances

Urgent measures to be adopted for the survival of family and peasant farming (94,8% of farms in the EU, Eurostat 2020), in summary:

  • fair price, prohibition of sales below cost to be subjected to rigorous controls and sanctions
  • price regulation of production factors (energy, diesel, technical inputs)
  • green procurement of local products and family farming, to stimulate short supply chains (3)
  • conditions of socio-environmental reciprocity and tariff quotas for imports from third countries
  • fair redistribution of the CAP and national aid in favor of small and medium-sized agricultural companies that produce
  • environmental measures aimed at enhancing the characteristics of local agriculture (i.e. polyculture, legumes, pastoralism)
  • administrative simplification, reduction of burdens on family farming
  • fair compensation to farmers for damage caused by wildlife
  • right to access land and natural resources to produce and promote food sovereignty
  • support for the ecological transition for the protection of the environment and the restoration of degraded areas.

2) The reaction of the strong powers

The strong powers which have deliberately caused the closure of 37% of farms in the last 20 years (Eurostat, 2020) have so far reacted to farmers’ protest with two tactics:

– viral deceptions. To ward off protests, large agricultural confederations have created imaginary enemies such as the CAEG 8 environmental sustainability standard and pesticide reduction targets. To then present the ‘system’, with the blessing of Ursula with der Leyen, as capable of solving the (false) problems (4,5)

– elemosyne. National governments in turn responded to the protests by granting handouts, perhaps canceling cuts to agricultural aid that they themselves introduced in the latest budget measures. (6) But if companies produce at a loss, due to below-cost sales, the handouts will only prolong the agony.

3) Infiltration. The farce of the ‘Agricultural Ransom’ in Italy

The ‘boss of bosses’ of Coldiretti, the first agricultural confederation in Italy, stated that the farmers’ crisis is a ‘micro-problem’ and the tractor protest should be accused of ‘hooliganism’, as we have seen. (7) Vincenzo Gesmundo, as we have also seen, has formed a deep alliance with the minister Francesco Lollobrigida and the Brothers of Italy. Which therefore have:

  • created a fake movement of protesting farmers, ‘Coordinamento Riscatto Agricolo’, with the same acronym (CRA) as the real one, ‘Comitati Riuniti Agricoltori’, which started tractor mobilizations throughout Italy
  • confused the population and the farmers themselves, seen worldwide at the Sanremo Festival but also in the press (Corriere della Sera first and foremost), making them believe that ‘Riscatto Agricolo’ represented the protesting tractors
  • staged a meeting and an agreement between ‘Riscatto Agricolo’ and Francesco Lollobrigida, trying to deceive the Italians, through the media (so Cor.Sera, La Repubblica, La Stampa) that ‘the movement’ has ‘split’. (8)

4) Other Coldiretti deceptions

Ettore Prandini, the millionaire president of Coldiretti, flies to Brussels and bullies gullible journalists by stating that ‘tractor requests are confusing‘. And exactly the opposite is true:

  • the farmers ask for a fair price and a ban on sales below cost which Coldiretti himself prevented from taking place, due to conflicts of interest which also concern ‘his’ Paolo De Castro, president of his Filiera Italia foundation
  • to farmers who ask for #fairprice to live off their work, Coldiretti responds with the green light to pesticides and GMOs which will instead increase their costs. On the other hand, the profits of Federconsorzi 2 alias CAI SpA of which Prandini himself is a shareholder will increase. (9)

The last deceptions travel on Whatsapp. Just as the Coldiretti – Lollobrigida – Fratelli d’Italia system, in agreement with its false ‘Riscatto Agricolo’ militants, boasts of the split in the farmers’ spontaneous movements, the loyalists are spreading false messages about the cancellation of the demonstration at the Circus Maximus in Rome on February 15th at 15pm. Which is instead confirmed.

5) Peaceful revolution

Here the problems are different, the profits along the supply chain must be rebalanced, the right production price must be recognized. How come if the cost of production factors doubles or even triples, the price paid to the company always remains the same? There’s something not right, we need to undermine some dominant position‘ (an Italian farmer).

#CleanSpades

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Krutika Pathi. Why thousands of Indian farmers are protesting again. AP News. 13.2.24 http://tinyurl.com/mr3bx4pn

(2) Great protest initiative from CNA and Filiadas in Vila Real. CNA.pt. 8.2.24 https://cna.pt/news/show/722.html

(3) Dario Dongo. Short supply chain, concepts and valuesGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 27.9.19

(4) Dario Dongo. Farmers in protest, the viral deception of Coldiretti & Co. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 5.2.24

(5) Dario Dongo. Protesting farmers, pesticides instead of #fairpriceGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 7.2.24

(6) Dario Dongo. Italy, farmers protest against Coldiretti. #CleanSpadesGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 26.1.24

(7) Dario Dongo. Farmers’ protest, the letter from the big boss of ColdirettiGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 8.2.24

(8) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti, Lollobrigida and Fratelli d’Italia, deep ties and #falseflag. #CleanSpadesGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 10.2.24

(9) Dario Dongo. CAI SpA, Federconsorzi 2. Federico Vecchioni’s Big Binge and Coldiretti’s magic circleGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.2.21

(10) Farmers return to blockade the European neighborhood in Brussels. After the double siege carried out at the beginning and end of February to contest EU policies, around a hundred tractors are gathering this morning near the headquarters of the main EU institutions. Some fires were set on Place du Luxembourg, in front of the European Parliament buildings, which had already been stormed on 1 February. Firecrackers are being thrown near the headquarters of the European Commission and the EU Council, where the European Agriculture Ministers are meeting. Some fires were set by burning tires and bales of hay even in front of the department responsible for disbursing the funds of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). There are currently around a hundred tractors gathered in Rue de la Loi, the main artery that crosses the EU district. FUGEA and ECVC farmers return to Brussels.

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.