Small Farmers…and Farm Futures

Small Farmers…and Farm Futures

Henry Saragih, General Coordinator of Via Campesina and Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, at the Klimaforum.

The small farmers’ movement has been well-represented at the Klimaforum (if not on the many government delegations, where it appears agribusiness got the slots), making important points about the need to distinguish between “Big Ag” and small, more sustainable agriculture in the climate (and justice) context. Farmed animals aren’t a focus of their agenda, but aren’t entirely absent. A press release from Via Campesina, a self-described international peasant movement, includes this:

“Industrial agriculture, represented by large monocultures, plantations and intensive livestock production is responsible for around half of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions…More than 150 Via Campesina farmers have come to Copenhagen to claim that a radical change in the food system has the potential to achieve reductions of between 50-75% of current global emissions. This would include returning organic matter to the soil, developing local markets and reversing intensive livestock production…in order to save the climate we must change the current production and consumption models.”

I had a chance today to finish reading the International Herald Tribune I’d been carrying around with me for days. This article caught my eye. It’s not directly related to Copenhagen, but it could be viewed through a climate lens’as most things can. Uruguay, a small nation in Latin America, is seeking to capture what it sees as a steady market for grass-fed, free-range beef from its neighbor, Argentina, where feedlots and corn-based feed have become the norm. Uruguay’s beef marketing campaign puts “images of grazing cattle and plates of beef with scenes of vineyards and seaside boardwalks.” Peculiar. But perhaps no more so than what we’re all waiting for from the climate talks in Copenhagen, and around the world.

Image courtesy of Friends of the Earth