La Via Campesina ‘peasants’ movement inaugurated in the UK

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Posted Apr 12 2013 by James Dennis of Diggers & Dreamers
via-campesina

La Via Campesina is an international organisation claiming around 250 million members! It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate-driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.

Well hooray to that! And on the 3rd of March this year, at Ruskin Mill Farm, Gloucestershire, La Via Campesina UK had its inaugural AGM. Welcome to the UK, LVC!

Here’s the story, from James.

Last November at a Food Sovereignty Now! meeting somewhere in Bristol a group of 12 people put their names forward and constituted La Via Campesina UK.

I was one of around 40 agricultural and forestry workers, volunteers and growers/producers from private businesses, co-ops, CSAs (community-supported agriculture), market gardens and box schemes who piled into the Ruskin Mill Farm field kitchen for the first AGM. We also met with the aim of finalizing some points with regard to focusing the organisation’s aims in the UK, including criteria for membership and preparing the process of joining the European arm at a meeting in April.

LVC (who claim around 250milllion members world wide) exists as a voice for both landed and landless people who oppose the policies and methods used in contemporary large-scale industrial/chemical agriculture as exploitative and destructive to the land and the people. They campaign to ‘reform our broken food system’ using the principles of food sovereignty as laid down at a forum held in Selingue, Mali in 2007, which can be viewed here.

The only membership organisation currently representing the UK within LVC is the Scottish Crofting Federation.

Different parts of the globe are facing different problems when it comes to land issues. LVC UK recognises that access to land in the UK is a major factor that prevents people from having smallholdings or producing food for themselves and local markets, and will make bringing these issues into public awareness a key priority.

Seed sovereignty, feed regulations for livestock, research and skill training were other major issues discussed.

On a European level, reform of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) to try and stop it benefiting large land owners at the expense of small farmers and smallholders will also be a priority. This is an issue uniting small food producers throughout Europe, and indeed the world today.

For more information please see:

or email [email protected] to ask about membership (£30 per year – open to anyone actively involved in farming, fishing or fibre enterprises, so let anyone know who might be interested).