Farmers Take Action on Climate Change, Excessive Retail Power and Commodity Speculation
August 7, 2009, Paris, France – From July 27-29 in Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) held the IFAP Commodities Conference ‘Proactive Farmers and Resilient Pathways: Sustainable Markets and Safer Systems’ with meetings of the IFAP Committee of Women Farmers and the IFAP Young Farmers Committee. Over 100 farmer leaders from 40 countries participated, resulting in substantive recommendations from the committees and commodity groups to face price volatility, deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation, manage risk and improve the position of farmers in the food chain. The conferences were hosted by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).
In his welcome address, IFA President Padraig Walshe, who is also the President of COPA, highlighted that 2009 has been a difficult year for commodity producers, with farm gate prices having fallen dramatically, an ensuing credit crisis and increased price volatility. Excessive retail power is a problem in Ireland and many countries as supermarkets push for ever more profit at the expense of the producers. “The low producer prices are unsustainable and are threatening to seriously damage our production base, crippling sound family farming enterprises with debt or driving them out of business altogether”, he said. http://vimeo.com/5973240
The President of IFAP, Ajay Vashee, said that “there is clearly a crisis of confidence in agriculture as farmers are shocked by the reality of volatile prices and costs that have left them to grapple with an unstable market”. Markets must work for farmers, and clearly this is not happening, he said. “Unless the viability of agriculture is maintained, the future for young people venturing into agriculture will not be bright and the food security of the majority of women will be threatened”. President Vashee highlighted the issues of climate change, price volatility, supermarket power, and investment in agriculture as common interests of all the commodity groups in IFAP.
The IFAP Young Farmers’ Committee and the IFAP Committee of Women Farmers met on July 28, and the four Commodity Groups – Dairy, Meats and Feeds, Grains and Oilseeds and Tropical Products met in parallel on July 29. On July 30, each of the committee reported back to the plenary session with their respective declarations and recommendations.
In the Committee of Women Farmers, Committee Chair Karen Serres (France) announced the theme for World Rural Women’s Day 2009 “Rural Women at the heart of innovation” to be celebrated on October 15 by farmers’ and international organizations throughout the world. The committee issued ten key messages with the aim of empowering women in agriculture and promoting their contributions to rural livelihoods.
Video (French): http://www.vimeo.com/5974579
The Young Farmers’ Committee Chair Kati Partanen (Finland) presented the “IFAP Young Farmers’ Declaration” to the plenary, which stresses the importance for young farmers of having access to tools to deal with the problem of price volatility and other risks and also includes a seven-pillar action plan.http://www.ifap.org/en/
IFAP Dairy Group Chair Wesley Judd (Australia) presented seven recommendations made by the Group, which supports the “Global Sustainability Dairy Initiative” led by International Dairy Federation to showcase best practices of dairy farmers to deal with climate change.
IFAP Grains and Oilseeds Group Chair Xavier Beulin (France) said that the Group was concerned about the strong market price volatility in grains and oilseed markets, which is particularly difficult for farmers in developing countries who do not have access to social safety nets.
Video (French): http://www.vimeo.com/5975040
IFAP Meats and Feeds Group Chair Lourie Bosman (South Africa) reported that the Group has given a lot of attention to animal welfare issues, mainly through the OIE but also through FAO. The Group has also been working on Animal Identification and Traceability, which is important for maintaining consumer confidence in livestock products.
IFAP Group on Tropical Products, led by Vice-Chair Gerald SSendaula (Uganda), identified three issues of common interest to all producers of tropical products, which will form the core of the Group’s work program, namely: certification, product information, and marketing information.
The complete set of documents from the conferences can be found on the IFAP website at:
IFAP is the world farmers’ organization, representing 600 million family farmers grouped in 120 national organizations in 80 countries. It is a global network in which farmers from industrialized and developing countries exchange concerns and set common priorities. IFAP has been advocating farmers’ interests at the international level since 1946 and has General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. www.ifap.org