La Via Campesina: international organisation for small-scale farmers coming to Britain

Chris Smaje
Friday, 22nd February 2013

Farmers, fisheries and producers will come together with La Via Compesina this spring, to lobby and campaign for small-scale producers

The international farming organisation La Via Campesina is arriving in the UK.

An annual general meeting of the group will be taking place on March 3rd 2013 in Gloucestershire at Ruskin Mill Farm. The meeting will give producers the opportunity to learn more about the proposed work of Via Campesina UK as well as identify campaigning priorities.

The UK co-ordination has two broad objectives. First is to organise campaigns and lobby UK and European parliaments on issues affecting small-scale produces livelihoods. The second is to provide a network for producers to share skills and knowledge through on-farm training, tours and working groups.

Via Campesina is a coalition of producers which means the membership is open to anyone actively involved in farming, fishing or fibre enterprises. The campaign focusses on Food Sovereignty which was launched in 1996. It is defined as: "The right of communities to define their own food and farming systems." Food sovereignty in our society describes how farm shops, farmers' markets and local box-schemes connect producers with consumers across the UK today.

Although many farmers across the UK are already associated with unions, Via Campesina is unique in offering direct links to experiences and activities of like-minded producers across Europe and the rest of the world.

La Via Campesina was founded in 1993 to represent small-scale traditional food producers across the world. Twenty years later and the organisation represents more than 400 million farmers, growers, fishermen and pastoralists. It campaigns for their rights to recognised by national and international policies.

La Via Compesina comprises of around 150 local and national organisations in 70 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. It brings together peasants, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural people from across the world, defending small-scale sustainable agriculture as way to promote dignity and social justice. It is an autonomous and multiculturalist movement, independent from any affiliation and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.

The AGM will begin at 9am and finish by 5pm. It will include lunch and a tour of Ruskin Mill Farm. Camping is available on Saturday evening (2nd) along with an evening meal and breakfast. The event is free of charge but booking is essential. Contact [email protected] to book a place.