The following 6 interactive themes allow for a better understanding of what a profitable agricultural farm consists of, first globally, and second, in regards to each specific element. The themes consist of the different goals a farmer can strive for, following his own individual rhythm within his own proper environment.
The symbol of a flower and its six petals found on the logo of Euskal Herriko Laborantza Ganbara are symbolic of these themes
Autonomy or Self Sufficiency
Self Sufficiency is at once the ability to make your own choices and be the master of your own destiny. Self-sufficiency for a farmer depends upon the choices he has made, and those choices, in turn, will depend upon his skills pertaining to the ability in his mastering the outsourcing of fertilizer, seeds, feed, energy and also his profitability on his small farm. This self sufficiency contributes equally to the freedom and responsibilities of the farmer. We are not talking dictatorship, but on the contrary, that which is the development of partnerships and networks…true complimentary exchanges.
Increasing or rediscovering self sufficiency for the farm means the following:
- overcoming expenses related to fertilization or the working of the soil, by favoring the production of plants which are adapted to local soil and weather conditions and the avoidance of the long distances of product transport.
- overcoming costs of livestock feed by developing pasture and valuing indigenous fern and brush growth.
- mastering the need for finances and the capital invested to increase income.
- taking the administrative steps necessary to obtain quality branding which is more likely to provide a better development of income.
- the evidence of additional value by maximizing one’s production (or a part thereof) and developing direct sales…
La repartition/ Distribution
All farmers should be able to obtain the skills necessary in order to produce in ways which will allow him to earn a decent living. However, successive agricultural policies have driven small and medium sized farms into the ground by privileging quantity (large corporations) instead of quality, and imposing ceilings on a farmer’s right to subsidies, his right to produce, and his right to earn a living. Strategic action must be taken in mobilizing to demonstrate opposition to neo-liberal (free-market) trade and agricultural policies.
Distribution consists of giving the rights to produce, the rights to subsidies and finances, in priority, to exploitations and farms with the weakest production.
Just distribution takes into account the need for distribution on a humane scale. Our policy advocates a more decentralized model where production, processing, distribution and consumption is controlled by the people in the communities themselves, and not by multinational corporations. Regulations regarding distribution must remain transparent...who, what when, where, why and how.
Installation and Transferring Ownership
The ability of transferring one’s farm supports the subsequent generations… This capacity, of course, is dependent upon its economic viability, meaning the income generated and the value and work “tools” to be passed on or forward. In other words, what is the quality of life the farm is able to provide?
Working With Nature and Natural Resources
In order to guarantee future generations the ability to care for their own needs (self sufficiency), we must conserve our ecological diversity and our natural resources. Our agricultural system must take these two priorities into account. A farm producing only one thing, be it plant or animal, is particularly vulnerable to deficiencies, sickness, and parasites. Preventative treatments and remedy for disease become more and more important with one dimensional farming, therefore interfering with the soil’s fertility, as well as the soil’s needs for water, quantity and quality. Country farming has an opposite effect, this system requires less interference or treatment because product diversity is prioritized; crop rotation and a variety of plant and animal species, which are also indigenous of or adapted to the specific territory.
The primary roles of agriculture are providing the supply of a sufficient quantity of good healthy food, as well as a good quality of life for the local population. The quality of a product comes from both its healthy aspect and its good flavor. It is not accidental, it depends on HOW it is produced; the size of the production area, (it’s density), the type of breeding and production, and other integrating factors…
Product needs to be easily identifiable, and the means with which to identify and “trace” it must be crystal clear; the steps the product necessitated before reaching the hands of the consumer must be transparent. Conditions for production should be clearly described on the specification formats, easily noted, and easily tracked by the consumer.
Depending upon its nature, different labels and branding for quality should be clearly stated, such as; Organic Agriculture, AOC/AOP, IGP, conforming labels and certificates…clearly visible.
Local Production and Territorial Dynamics
A farmer must also be a responsible citizen. He must implicate himself socially and economically within in local life. A dynamic territory favorizes the sustainability of a multitude of farms offering a good quality of life for its inhabitants, commerce nearby, a social network and other services, as well as cultural activities. The opposite is true for a countryside without farmers. Its appearance becomes negligent, as there is no longer anyone to care for the countryside….it loses its economic vitality, services. Then businesses disappear, and in the long term, the tourists do as well.