It’s time to make legislation for artisanal farmers more flexible

Since we started this blog we knew this was an opportunity to change and improve the current situation. We could not ignore the chance to open a debate about small artisanal farmers and the realities of their situation and create a place for an exchange of opinions and views. “A sanction an opportunity” was born on the 25th of December and concludes today. As we announced at the beginning of this blog, we knew that this topic deserves a more detailed analysis, but we are satisfied that the competent authorities, the Basque Government and the three Local Councils, which manage the creation of legal frameworks for artisanal farmers, have shown goodwill and have taken up the baton.

The next step is for our demands to be made real. We need to define what a small artisanal farmer is and to give these farmers more flexible legal tools so they are able to survive. We hope that the voices of the artisanal fishers and local farmers and their demands do not fall on deaf ears. The Basque Government has been challenged to create an Artisanal Decree. The Basque Administration has recognised the cultural, social and sustainable values of artisanal agriculture and the necessity of facing the situation of these artisanal farmers. The platforms Euro-Toques and Slow Food, will continue their work promoting this area.

During these months continual signs of support have been given by anonymous people, committed consumers or farmers worried by an uncertain future, and also by internationally well known chefs, like Mr. René Redzepi, Mr. David Chang, Mr. Joan Roca, Mr. Ferran Adrià, Mr. Juan Mari Arzak or Mr. Pedro Subijana among others. They believe that local sustainable and artisanal products have an added value.

Which is the main preoccupation for these local farmers? There is an unanimous answer. The Legal barrier, the lack of demand, the costs of implementing new procedures, the lack of knowledge of sales options, and finally the complexity of the associated technology and the small size of the farmers turnover.

The farmers demand more flexible legislation concerning sanitary matters and new sanitary authorisations that make the artisanal agriculture viable.  Finally, Public awareness-raising campaigns and Institutional support for local products. The current legislation is focussed on  farmers with huge turnovers and the industry in general.

What solutions are there? Perhaps, a common legislation for large industry, medium or small artisanal farmers but with specific recommendations for the small sized artisanal group and a more flexible interpretation of the legislation. Perhaps a special quality logo indicating that artisanal products comply with the minimum sanitary required conditions. Perhaps specific controls for local products.

The reality is that consumers are giving more and more importance to healthy and natural products. Products that have their origin clearly marked and are respectful to the environment.

It is time to move on.

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