In an opinion article published by the NRC, Professor of Social Theory Willem Schinkel explains that farmers get little sympathy from people who want to combat climate change and the destruction of biodiversity: "Since future generations will be affected more and more seriously by this, it does not look like farmers will be able to count on more support any time soon." According to Schinkel, this is a pity: "Solidarity with farmers is crucial for the climate movement."
"Farmers could stand at the basis of the different way of dealing with the earth that is sorely needed"
The survival of farms is at stake. Schinkel explains that farmers have been reduced to agri-industrial subcontractors and exporters who have to get the most out of land and animals for small margins. "We should not forget that the global food system is the result of a now centuries-long displacement of small producers that has its roots in the colonial domination of the global south," says Schinkel. "If we want to give farmers a perspective, we have to place what is happening now in that centuries-long based growth of, on maximum production and profit, industrial agriculture." In addition, drastic intervention in the market is needed, such as production agreements and corresponding price and income guarantees for farmers.
"The desperation of farmers is logical, but there are alternatives"
Without a real alternative, farmers' desperation is logical, according to Schinkel. But there are alternatives: "There are organic and biodynamic farmers, and under the general heading of agroecology there are ways of dealing sustainably with natural nutrients. There is also the option of working on a smaller scale, avoiding meat production, and being less export-oriented. It is clear that with small-scale farming, and therefore with more instead of fewer farmers, enough can be produced.