hThe discussion itself contributes to a constructive dialogue between the various actors in the series. “We often talk about farming without giving the farmer a voice,” says moderator Tessa Avermaite of KU Leuven. “There is still a lot of work to be done: the price of our food does not reflect the real price at all. However, you feel that most, if not all, of the actors in the chain understand that a structural change is needed.”
Not only is a good contract important to Belgium, contract work on other continents is the way to get a good price for agricultural products. For example, Nima Silas of Tanzania, a farmer who grows vegetables, knows, among other things, that she has to negotiate before selling. I work with contracts to sell agricultural products. In addition, I think it is important to understand the market and compare prices. If you don’t have a contract, sell at the prevailing price.” It also provides additional benefits: Some buyers give farmers advice to add value to produce.
In Belgium too, farmers seek a fair price for their produce, and thus a good income. Green Circle chief Bram van Heck: “The farmers receive 60% of the wages of the average Flemish person. For me it might be 110%. There is a mistake in the chain. The farmer makes up for it himself by being satisfied with the environment in which he works, and the beautiful landscape , and the family farm…, but that is not enough.”
Groene Kring vice chairman and dairy farmer Maarten Moermans points out that it’s hard to get a fair price for milk. “The milk has a short shelf life and should be in the factory within 3 days. This makes pricing in the market more difficult. So we are very dependent on the dairy factory. We cannot set the price ourselves, and therefore we try to keep the cost prices as cheap as possible so that we make some margin.” “. He can estimate the cost price on a weekly basis, but he can’t be sure. “There are always factors beyond your control. However, since we are a member of the Arla Cooperative, you do have some say as a farmer.”
Selling milk — perhaps processed — via the short chain provides limited solace. Maarten annually sells between 50,000 and 60,000 liters out of a total of 1.2 million liters of milk through the short chain. “It increases the added value, and the big advantage is that you can set the price yourself. However, because the quantity is limited, there is also little profit in aggregate. In addition, competition is rising. If many farmers in a region do the same , You will notice competition affecting the price. So all the cultivators in the short chain… It will not work.”
Finally, it points to the legal certainty of farmers, which has been increasingly compromised in recent years. There are many challenges in farming. We live in a time when farmers are limited and some measures are imposed. And that while expansion is important for us to create margin. Just look at the PAS story. This also has an impact on business operations and therefore on prices. We know there are challenges, but we need space. “
New pricing systems and more labels?
Ricolto also investigates fair pricing systems. Gilles Goossens from Recolto: “When prices jump in time, it will not be easy for the farmer. That is why we think, for example, of belt systems with a minimum and maximum price, between which prices can vary.
One way to demand and justify a higher price is to use labels. Lidl’s director of communications, Isabelle Colbrandt, notes that they work with the Fairtrade brand, including chocolate: “First of all, we want transparency in the chain. How do you get from beans to chocolate on the shelves? We are already aiming for fewer links in Chain. This is better for pricing and more sustainable.” Lidl’s sustainability coordinator Ines Verschaeve adds that Belgium is not the best in Europe. “Other countries, such as the Netherlands, are far ahead when it comes to labels and certifications. An example of this is the pork animal welfare label. same in the market.
Labels are not a complete solution
However, it is noted that Lidl consumers do not necessarily choose the most sustainable. “90% choose the cheapest one,” says Verschiff.
Goedele Van den Broeck, professor of agricultural economics at Université Catholique de Louvain, points out that there are many labels, which is a positive thing for farmers. “It remains important to realize that labels only apply to certain products, and therefore do not apply to a farmer’s full range of agricultural products. A label does not immediately guarantee a good income. Certification is not a miracle solution.”
Martin Moormann only agrees. He also got a label for his milk. “At first you got a good premium price for this, but if 99% of farmers get that label, and so it becomes an urgent standard, that premium price will go away. That’s too bad.”
Goossens points out that a clear plan is urgently needed: “There are many examples of supermarket initiatives, for example towards animal welfare, but a framework must be given.” The Committee sees this role mainly as government in the chain of consultations, mainly because some of the links are not used to working together. For example, things are going smoothly because of other interests. Supermarkets are afraid to disappear from the market. Verschaeve also points out that many links in the chain are unaware of the challenges of supermarkets.
the solution? “The government should set standards so that prices don’t go down again,” Goossens says. Bram defends the farmer: “It seems that concrete decisions remain difficult, while this is very necessary. We still understand each other very little. We need to figure out how to increase margins for all partners in the chain. I think there should be a good market policy, Instead of the currently prevailing subsidy policyIt’s just some money. They can take it with them, if the farmer is otherwise assured of a fair price and fair income. And a good market policy, it should actually come from Europe.”
“I would be very happy if in ten years no one sat here at the table and asked me about climate activism.”
Vital Materials – Technical Weekly
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