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‘We must combat the reigning thought-patterns,’ said a French farmers’ leader, speaking in Caux, Switzerland today.
‘We must combat the reigning thought-patterns,’ said a French farmers’ leader, speaking in Caux, Switzerland today. Christiane Lambert, the first woman president of a French farmers’ union, pleaded for a logic of sustainable development and against a liberal fundamentalism, which deepens economic divides and runs against the integrity that is the theme of this summer’s Caux conferences.
Speaking of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the break-down of the ‘Doha Round’, she said, ‘An organization whose only credo seems to be that ‘a liberalization of trade will be good for economic and social development’ is wilfully heading into a dead end.’ The insistence of consumers on ever-cheaper prices, with higher standards of quality and hygiene necessarily leads to higher costs somewhere, and narrower margins. She criticized policies that ‘drive farmers from their land without any care or compensation’. Agricultural policies ‘need to be adapted to each region of the world, along with international aid for the least advanced countries’.
Christiane Lambert, who runs a pig farm with her husband in the Maine-et-Loire region of France, is Vice-President of the national association FNSEA (the national federation of farmers’ unions) and also Vice-President of FARRE (Forum for rational farming that respects the environment). She called for closer cooperation between the WTO and other specialized organizations in the United Nations family like the World Labor Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization which try to integrate social factors and promote ‘the access of all to adequate food through giving a priority to local production’. The international negotiations must be re-opened rapidly, she concluded, and ‘it is also urgent to renew our trust in the integrity of our leaders’.
This Farmers’ Dialogue in Caux has grown out of the commitment of working farmers in many countries on all continents who have found a new purpose through Initiatives of Change. In their Web site, they say: ‘They have been wrestling with the problems facing our planet. This is resulting in them being involved in many of the issues of their day, be it the European Union, developing the dairy industry in Asia, farming in Africa or developments in Eastern Europe. Half the world sees farmers as a beleaguered minority, the other half as a huge majority struggling for a voice. Despite great differences of circumstance and climate, there is a common language between people who work the soil.
‘Since the early 90’s we have seen the benefit of arranging what are known as Farmers’ Dialogues. These are aimed at creating a common purpose based on shared values for the soil, environment and family life. This can be expanded to embrace new developments world-wide which could assure farmers' stability and perhaps give a new direction to human society.’
Who we are: Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Purpose: We work to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living.
Omnia Marzouk, President, IofC International
'Nothing lasting can be built without a desire by people to live differently and exemplify the changes they want to see in society.'