Do European Policies Support Good, Clean and Fair Food?

The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is heading towards a new reform, foreseen in 2020.

This tool, which represents 37,8% of the EU budget (around 58 billion euros per year for the term 2014-2020)[1], is still insufficient to support small and medium-scale producers’ needs, despite the numerous rehashes.

In the view of this forthcoming reform, Slow Food has launched an online survey directed to thousands of small-scale producers from its network and from partner associations in 7 European countries. In order to have an adequate geographical representation, the questionnaire has been sent to producers in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Romania.

The questionnaire aims not only to collect the opinions of farmers producing good, clean and fair food on how the existing measures affect their work, but also to report what they actually need in order to improve their working conditions.

The Slow Food survey constitutes therefore a tool to amplify the voices of small- and medium-scale producers as heard by the European institutions, making them more aware of the urgent needs of those committed to promoting a more sustainable food system, who, rather than being recognized and supported, are often neglected.

A preliminary analysis of the results will be presented precisely at Cheese, during the conference From the CAP to Hygiene Rules: Needs of Small-scale Producers in the EU, at which our producers will participate in the first to expose their vision regarding these topics.  With the aim of listening to their demands and of launching a constructive dialogue, members of European and local institutions have been invited to take part in the conference.

Having as a main objective the analysis of the issues that hamper the farming activity, the survey takes in consideration also policies measures not directly connected with the CAP regulation. One example can be found in the hygiene rules, which, despite being indispensable, are often quite complicated and excessive compared to small-scale producers’ activity.

For this reason, at the conference, the “Guide for Good Hygiene Practices” elaborated by FACEnetwork (Farmhouse and Artisan Cheese and Dairy Producers European Network) will be presented.

This guide is the outcome of two years work of a group composed by 21 experts (technicians and producers), coming from 15 different countries. The tool is rooted in the European normative[2] and in the principles of the HACCP, which is the protocol that aims at preventing possible food contaminations. The guide is made particularly useful by including examples of more flexible measures, still in compliance with the legislation, for small business and/or individual operators that utilize traditional processing methods.

“This guide has been prepared for artisanal producers and concerns regular controls for quality and food safety”, explains Remedios Carrasco, coordinator of FACEnetwork in Spain for the association Que Red. “These controls may be visual, tactile, or organoleptic. The value of experience and know-how is upheld and used as a control tool against danger. With this guide, producers will have the necessary documentation to demonstrate that any such dangers are under control.” Thanks to FACEnetwork effort, artisanal producers can benefit from an efficient instrument not just to get orientated in the normative and bureaucratic labyrinth, but also to defend themselves against objections to their activity status. Last December, indeed, the guide has obtained the validation from the European Commission and the 28 Member States of the European Union, becoming an official document for the artisanal cheese-making production and for the competent authorities in each member states.

The guide has been published in English in FACEnetwork website last January, but it will be translated in the European Union 23 official languages, in order to make it widely accessible to whoever works in the sector in Europe. It is possible to download the guide here.

Carolina Modena
c.modena@slowfood.it

[1] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/atyourservice/it/displayFtu.html?ftuId=FTU_5.2.2.html

[2] Regolamento (CE) N°852/2004 e Regolamento (CE) N°853/2004

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