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“We want a living rural world”

Friends of the Earth Spain demands an end to industrial cattle farming and promotes sustainable family and small-scale practices

On October 27-28, Friends of the Earth Spain, together with La Vía Campesina Europe and other agrarian, cattle farming, environmental and consumption groups celebrated “The Days of Action for Good Food” demanding changes in the food system based on policies that promote healthy food for the people and the planet.

“We´ve been seeing for years that the European food system is not working, it is not living up to the expectations of providing healthy food, protecting the environment and keeping the rural world alive”, said Blanca Ruibal, coordinator of Friends of the Earth Spain, in an interview with Real World Radio.

The main problems include the exacerbation of industrial cattle farming through swine production in Spain, which generates many impacts as any other extractive and intensive industry, which are detrimental for climate change, causing the loss of biodiversity, polluting water sources and lands, impoverishing small farmers and benefitting only four companies that export their products mostly to China.

As this deepens the depopulation of the rural area, “industrial cattle farming advances, and family and small-scale cattle farming is losing ground”, added Ruibal, warning about the need to reverse the current “disconnection between the rural and the urban spheres”.

Friends of the Earth and its local groups participated in the actions held by the Good Food Movement in 20 European countries, including Spain, such as in Eivissa, Logroño, Madrid, Mallorca, Ourense and Zaragoza cities with local product tastings, promoting healthy food and a reduction of meat consumption.

“It is unconceivable that in the middle of an environmental and social crisis like the one we are experiencing, industrial farming, macro cattle exploitation and large distribution chains continue receiving EU funds. This is a model that is making the people and our ecosystems sick. For this reason, people throughout Europe joined to demand a socially and environmental viable model, that takes into consideration the consequences for the communities of the Global South and North”, said the coordinator of Friends of the Earth Spain.

Over 14 % of CO2 emissions are caused by industrial cattle farming, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emitted by the transport sector at global level. Also, far from favoring employment, cattle farming is a threat for the rural area: from 1999 to 2013, 128,000 family farms disappeared in Spain.

The mobilization takes place in the framework of the negotiations of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). On November 19, representatives of the Good Food movement will go to the EU Council to demand them they lead a CAP that matches up the challenges faced by Europe. “We need a good agricultural policy”, said Ruibal. “Public funds have to be oriented to public goods:  healthy food, healthy environment and a territory that allows the people to access goods and services”. Currently, the CAP is taking over a third of the EU´s total budget and “benefits landowners and the big industries. That is why we demand a change and that the industry stops taking all public grants for themselves”, concluded the environmental activist.