Sustaining the unsustainable
“No farmers, no food” was the message that spread like wildfire across X when farmers across Europe took to streets, roads, and fields* to protest the latest Brussels offensive against them.
*Did you see the video of police blocking a road to prevent tractors from moving towards some capital or other and tractors promptly cutting through the surrounding fields? Yes, it happened. Monty Python lives.
What started as anger against plans to remove fuel subsidies in Germany and France soon engulfed most of Europe. Despite heroic attempts by the media to give as little coverage as possible to the events and to attribute the farmers’ anger to anything but energy policies, they could not hold the fort. Even The Guardian wrote a long piece about it which I won’t link here because what’s the use?
Anyway, the farmers took on the bureaucrats and won, for now. The EU has gone back on its plans to force a 50% reduction in pesticide use, it has gone back on plans to strangle farmers with emission reduction targets, and it has gone back on plans to force farmers to leave a certain portion of their land fallow every year. And they seem happy about it.
Indeed, the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner who has a name unpronounceable for most non-Poles said so directly. He was “happy” with the EU’s retreat, Janusz Wojciechowski told CNBC, because those plans were not “fully fair”. He then notched up the magnanimity, saying that “We need to reduce the use of pesticides, but not to force the farmers [to do it].”
It all sounds like a fairy tale with the obligatory happy ending. Farmer David wins against Brussels Goliath and everyone sings and dances as Goliath promises more money for farmer David instead of regulations. The problem, as always, is where the money is going to come from. The answer, as always, is “Out of our pockets”.
That hasn’t stopped transition crusaders before and it is certainly not going to stop them now. Or is it? Because more prominent people are starting to talk about the great big elephant in the transition room: costs. And some of them are doing it loudly.