Farmers Lose Heart
I've always felt farmers are the most important people. We would live very well without bureaucrats but not without farmers. They evoke hard work, sometimes back-breaking labour, rising before dawn at an hour when some of us city slickers are going to bed, and total dependency on the weather. There is no more wonderful place than a farmers market.
I don't think of them as being suicidal. This item from Philippe de Villiers' blog entry of November 23 brings bad news:
In a press communiqué dated Wednesday (November 22) Coordination Rurale (an independent agricultural union) expressed concern over a "disturbing wave of suicides among farmers that is currently rampant in the Rhône-Alpes region, bringing to 40 the number of deaths since the beginning of the year." Citing the accountability of the "politicians responsible for the grave errors of the current agricultural policies, that prevents farmers from living with dignity from the fruits of their labour and instead transforms them into welfare recipients."
Philippe de Villiers completely supports the Coordination Rurale in their call for the accountability of public officials. This organization has, for many years, along with its colleagues in the European parliament, denounced the absurdity of PAC (Common Agricultural Policy) that attempts to turn our farmers into minimum-wage-earning functionaries living off of subsidies.
At this point de Villiers lists several measures he favors to help the farmers, including a re-vamped agricultural policy that would allow them to live from their work and reestablish the necessary link between work and income, a new pricing policy that takes into account the restrictions placed on European farmers, an end to unfair competition with countries where wages and production costs are low and a withdrawal of farm products from the OMC (Common Markets Organization).
He ends with a wish to make prevalent the notion of the "agricultural exception":
...that is, the right of any country to preserve its independence in the production of food, its own agricultural model and the respect for democratically decided norms of health, security and quality.
I know little about suicide statistics, but 40 suicides in 11 months within one group of people is alarming.
Both PAC and OMC seem to be collectives, that cross national boundaries, and that impose on the farmers standards and strictures that normally would be established on a much more local scale. There is information on both organizations (in French) at this government website.
The miniature plate with a farm scene from Limoges was just sold on e-bay.