Local agriculture is part of the provision with basic food supplies

People’s initiative for food sovereignty

by Reinhard Koradi

Seen from the viewpoint of state policy as well as security policy, food production in our own country must remain an integral part of our provision with basic food supplies. Therefore it is necessary to consider a fundamental course correction of Swiss agricultural policy.
The consequences of neglecting the provision with basic supplies can be demonstrated very clearly in the context of “food sovereignty”. If the public sector cuts back here, the original idea of subsistence security is lost. Income and expenses determine the extent to which the task of securing supplies for the population is carried out and they also determine who is still to have access to supplies and provisions. Unprofitable enterprises are being shut down (structural reassessment) and state beneficiaries are losing their benefit entitlement if the potential benefit is too low in comparison with the cost (rationing). With the current agricultural policy, the Federal Council is undertaking a structural reassessment to which, according to the latest statistics, three farms fall victim daily. The local food producers lose their livelihood and the local population their security of supply. Notably in the case of supply shortages Switzerland could be trapped in a politically problematic dependence on foreign countries, and when everything is scarce allocation issues could also lead to social unrest.
Agricultural policy in combination with the security of supply can be seen as a model lesson for the “economization of life”. As soon as we start to contemplate this process, which is going on in our agricultural policy, with reference to our educational and health policy, our energy and transport policy, etc., we will very soon come to realise that there is an urgent need for action. The next few years could bring one or the other test of stamina to our country. With a little foresight and a secure provision with basic supplies based on individual responsibility and personal contribution these endurance tests might at least be somewhat alleviated.
Since a majority of the members of the executive and the parliamentarians at all levels are in favour of the privatization of basic supplies and since in the field of agrarian economy the will to strengthen self-subsistence by means of local production is still missing, the Swiss electorate is called to action.
The Swiss popular initiative for better “food sovereignty” provides an opportunity for this. This initiative was launched by Uniterre (a farmers’ organization, mostly active in western Switzerland). Current Concerns has already introduced and explained the initiative. The initiators want to retrieve food sovereignty in and for Switzerland. In future, agricultural policy is to ensure that farms be protected (stop closures and create additional jobs in agriculture) and that the domestic production is strengthened. Domestic producers have to be paid a fair price for their products, which will secure their livelihood. One of the initiators’ demands is the protection against dumping prices (prices below the production costs). In order to secure the livelihood of agricultural producers it is also necessary that production requirements and quality regulations for imported foodstuff should meet the Swiss requirements. The initiative wants to put a stop to the imminent dependence on foreign countries for our food supply; quite the contrary, it wants to strengthen our supply with regional, high-quality products.    •