It is difficult to define what is a small local food producer or farmer is and what laws apply to these artisanal farmers. There is no legislation, neither national nor international, that defines artisanal and family production, from the point of view of numbers about size, although everyone, nowadays, has a general idea of what an artisanal agriculture or farmer is. The Common agricultural policy (CAP) that directs agriculture, farmer and food production in Europe, nor autonomous communities, nor the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) knows how to define what an artisanal producer is. The issue is complicated because it depends on the type of crops and geographical areas concerned. A farm with 15 cows in A Coruña, Spain, might not be considered small, but however it is considered small in Cordoba.
According to the small farmers and breeders association of Spain (UPA), who support a more tangible and comprehensive concept, that allows for a variations in the size of its members according to local conditions. The UPA favors legislation that protects small farmers as it thinks that this is the most sustainable model, not only for the small farmers sake but also for the consumers, restaurateurs and the rural world, in general. If we aspire to a sustainable future and to having a healthy diet it is very important that government administration commits to small model production. For this Association, family run businesses are completely viable and cost-effective, both socially and economically
There is a constant battle between small farmers and big distribution chains. Small farmers complain about the pressures placed on them by the big distribution chains. Distribution in Spain is controlled by 5 big groups that concentrate the demand into products, however supply is very fragmented into small producers. The result of the pressure that can be weilded by the large distribution groups is that the fight for profitability, especially in times of crisis, transfers the war on prices in the supermarkets directly to local producers.
In reality, there should be a market for the big distribution chains but also a niche for small markets, farms, fishers and agricultures. And why not? Small producers ask for new legislation to protect them and help modifying the habits of comnsumers through innovation and creativity in order to create new possibilities for achieving more sustainable artisanal commerce. The battle is far from over.