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Europe’s Farmers Uprising Has Roots in Left’s Decades-long War on Farming Culture

Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2023
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by Ben Solis
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AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis

Late last week, thousands of Dutch and Belgian farmers took to the streets to protest new limits on nitrogen emissions – introduced at the behest of far-left environmental groups – which would likely spell the end of most family farms and significantly reduce food production.

While these demonstrations are the direct result of recent policy changes, they also represent the culmination of creeping socialist controls of the agricultural sector that emerged in Europe throughout the latter half of the 20th century.

Following World War II, five European countries, including the Netherlands, established the European Economic Community – a precursor to the European Union.

Among other functions, the EEC created common markets and a customs union. This included the advent of a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) beginning in 1962.

Initially, CAP was designed to support farmers and ensure Europe’s food supply. With the West locked in an ideological struggle with the Soviet Union, ensuring a stable supply of food was critical.

The politicians who shaped CAP agreed upon four basic principles: community preference, financial solidarity, a fair market for agricultural products, and the maintenance of farming communities and cultures.

Early CAP policies were aimed at strengthening the core of European village culture, which was rooted in an ethos of family, Christianity, and local governance. Thanks to this agreement, every farmer was confident he could provide for his family and no giant importer or foreign firm would drive him out of business or into poverty.

European farmers knew that the market would prefer their product over imported goods, and their goods would be reasonably priced for customers. CAP became a synonym for fairness and community solidarity in Europe for decades.

But in the 1980s, a wave of socialist-minded politicians took power throughout Europe. The farmer, the historical bulwark of traditional and religious culture, suddenly became the target of an ever-growing bureaucratic establishment and their obsessions with “modernization.”

Although the pretexts of the bureaucracy’s attacks on small farms have evolved over the decades, the purpose has remained consistent – the erasure of the ethos of individual family farms and the social engineering of farming communities.

A growing regulatory state began placing arbitrary restrictions on farm operations and products with the backing of parliaments controlled by leftists.

The European Commission’s infamous five-page “cucumber curvature regulation,” adopted in 1988 and not abolished until 2009, is one such example. The policy established three cucumber “classes,” with the first class needing to be “well-shaped and practically straight (maximum height of the arc: 10 mm per 10 cm of the length of the cucumber).”

Although it sounded like a joke, the cucumber law soon became a major problem for small farms. Suddenly, some of their cucumbers became less desirable to food retailers, who only wanted to sell the “highest” grade products.

Notably, the cucumber law was championed by a French socialist who abhorred the religiosity of farmers, deeming it “countrymen subculture.” He also opposed acknowledging Europe’s Christian foundation in the EU constitution, illustrating his antipathy toward the faith that underpins farming communities.

The overzealous bureaucrats didn’t stop there. Soon there were similar regulations on dozens of fruits and vegetables, as well as soil regulations that prohibited the planting of certain vegetables if they allegedly threatened protected insects.

As the mountain of regulations grew, small family farms struggled to keep up – all while large agriculture conglomerates moved in and snapped up their land. Unemployed villagers found themselves tied to ever-increasing government handouts, and many were forced to relocate to cities – the ideal living situation in the eyes of socialist politicians.

For Christian Democrats in Europe, these attacks on farmers were eerily reminiscent of Stalinist collectivization. Indeed, the seemingly unavoidable outcome of the agricultural regulations was the growth of cities and the death of small farming communities.

In the 1990s, a new excuse for regulating small farms out of existence took center stage – climate change. For many farmers, agricultural policy modeled on far-left alarmism about the environment became a bigger nightmare than drought, fire, or locusts combined. After all, no insurance firm offers protection against a bureaucrat.

At the same time, many Christian Democrat parties, which had for decades been a bastion for farmers against attacks by European socialists, began to embrace far-left climate ideology. Farmers found themselves without any representation in government, with their way of life under assault from all sides.

The spirit of the cucumber law and soil regulations can be traced directly through to the nitrogen policies that have inspired the farmer protests today. While large corporate farms can afford to comply with the new rules, family farms cannot, thus accelerating the destruction of farming communities that began decades ago.

Recent quotas on meat and milk production have also imposed bureaucratic limits on the economic efficiency of farms, forcing many families into a ranch dole program that further subjugates them to the government.

Retired chemistry professor Johan Vollenbroek, one of the authors of the new nitrogen policy, has described it in classic socialist terms as a “revolution.” He was clear in his hope that it would “change” Europe forever.

Yet the protests have demonstrated that farmers are not willing to go quietly. As with any socialist bureaucratic overreach, the only cure is the courage of ordinary people who are willing to stand up and defend their culture and their way of life.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.

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Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

No farmers=No Food, EU starves

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

One of the most effective ways to reduce the human population of the planet to the sort of levels that the globalist left frequently talks about is through mass starvation of humanity. Now obviously the left can’t come right out and say that they want to starve 95% of the planet to death, as even the dumbest of people would realize at some point that would be a very bad thing and might actually push back. So instead to keep the masses docile until it is too late, the left utilizes the new global religion called Climate Change to impose disastrous policies that will essentially end up accomplishing the exact same end result. All while most of the Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z generations cheer on anything related to Climate Change without question. When nearly half the westernized world foolishly believes that all life may come to end within 10 or 20 years unless we adopt draconian Climate Change policies, you have a global population ripe for unwittingly supporting policies that will lead to their own extinction.

Obviously, what is going on in Europe is already starting to pop up here, and in Canada as well as South America, in terms of new regulations designed to accomplish the same thing. So far, the vast majority of Americans have remained clueless to most of these new regulations and the end result of massive food shortages, substantially higher food prices and of course the same end result globalists here are working to mirror.

Kim
Kim
1 year ago

As usual, bureaucrats who have no background in the subject are free to judge what’s best for the populace. Democrat socialists insist city life is best. They think there’s no need for fertilizer; farming is dirty and for the uneducated. And, of course, the people are so much easier to control when they live in cities with their endless programs and amenities paid for by the rich. Those who like free stuff from the government flock to the cities, so, of course, they’re going to vote for public officials who hand it over to them on silver platters. It’s no wonder cities are heavily democrat districts.

Over the past century, the U.S. has lost 4 million farms, most run by extended families. Where did they go? Over time, they’ve been bought out by conglomerate farming operations, as the author noted. The economy of scale and automation…that sort of thing. Others who could no longer survive government regulations or compete with larger operations saw a way out when developers offered high prices for their land. And there’s the dilemma of who will take over the farm when younger generations are lured off the rural countryside for an exciting life in the busy metropolis.

This has led to a problem. As cities grow and the number of family farms dwindle, it can become more difficult to get reasonably priced fresh food to the people living in cities. So, struggling populations turn to–who else?–the government for food stamps, social services for meals on wheels, food banks, WIC, and other programs. What also suffers is people’s health when produce and protein are scarce or of low quality, necessitating more government intervention for treating obesity, diabetes, and other illnesses resulting from a poor diet. Catch-22: A city-centric society depends on expensive but less nutrient dense food brought from hundreds or thousands of miles away and the people depend on the government to feed them when they can’t afford the high prices. Socialists love this kind of setup! Nothing like giving out free food to win the love for and loyalty to the party!

And perhaps the biggest tragedy is the loss of rural culture when factory farm revenues are sent to urban financial districts instead of filtering through local economies. There goes the community! There goes the mom-and-pop downtown vibe! More ghost towns dot the landscape.

I’m glad to live in rural America, with clean air, scenic landscapes, and fresh produce I can pick from my gardens all year long. My point is that the more we remove ourselves from “the land”, the worse off we are, particularly because of who those city residents vote into office. It’s as if the socialists have deliberately herded people into these manageable pens, while guaranteeing their jobs and their reserved seats at 5-star restaurants for life.

Time to plant the asparagus bed.

tika
tika
1 year ago

these are all the underpinnings of globalism that the world majority DOESN’T support or we’d have had globalism a long, long, long, long time ago.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

Same thing happening here in the USA as in Europe.
Remember Slick Willy Clinton and his Socialist, Fascist party started full attack on Farmers and Farming here in the 1990’s and obama for 8 years did same thing and for past 3 years biden doing same. (That’s 19 years of full attack on our Farmers and Farming out of past 30 years under Socialist democrats).
Just look at our empty grocery store shelves today.
The worse here in the USA was from Socialist FDR (approved by Socialist democrats in Congress) when farmers are Paid by the Government to Not Grow Food. FACT.
(If they did grow food or try to give it away or to feed animals/livestock or give it to anyone they were Fined and went to Jail) FACT.
It is still in effect today and is still INSANE Socialist democrat policy.
Remember, No Farmers means NO FOOD and that is what the Socialist democrats want for Power and Control over the population since they think they are smarter and better than we are.
It’s all part of their plan.

bert33
bert33
1 year ago

Euroleftists are full of hate and self-loathing, abhor anything resembling hard work, or people that do it, as they are ‘university class’ thus above manual labor. As the universities are taken over by illegal immigrants and repurposed as political strongholds, beach heads for foreign countries and their ideologies, the university class will diminish in size and influence. Wealthy arab states will probably buy up the arab-le land across europe and start crop cultivation on their own. While doubling the rents in major cities throughout europe, because they’re crafty, like that.

Jackie
Jackie
1 year ago

It seems to me that the left is so full of hate and repulsion for anyone who disagrees with them!! But how can these hateful leftist eat if they get rid of farmers?? The left seems to hate everything that keeps them going – farmers, oil producers, pharmaceuticals, truck drivers and our military!! Their utopian society doesn’t seem to allow for these kinds of productive folks but if that’s the case, I don’t want to live where they want to live!!! Can they make their utopia somewhere besides the United States??

NinaRae
NinaRae
1 year ago

We need to do this in every state in the Union! Time to stop sitting on our thumbs waiting for Biden to be out of office. His latest comments leave no doubt that he’s senile or worse. Surely there’s a provision in the Constitution for this problem. I think they’re afraid the VP might be worse (shudder) & I can appreciate that, but wouldn’t it stir things up enough to help us thru to the end of this term? Maybe the Good Lord could take a few old senile democrats ‘Home’ “(wherever that might be? )

A Voter
A Voter
1 year ago

This is all part of the leftist plan to cull the heard. Cause food production to drop, people starve and the herd is much smaller and more manageable. WE are the herd.

Paula
Paula
1 year ago

The article states w/clarity & brevity the “changes” which have occurred throughout Europe but, will the ending sentence be enough? Protests can become violent & be terminated w/severe consequences. Are there enough “people” to truly go the steps further beyond protest? What’s it really going to take for enough people to say “ENOUGH.”? Just curious.

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