France, Southern Brittany is where the newest round of agricultural striking has taken place. France is well known across Europe for its willingness to protest, though in the US we typically think of think of the French as stylish, perhaps cool, or even uppity. However, we don’t think of France even having farmers. I’m sure many will get mental imagery of tall thin guys in tight pants and a tight t-shirt smoking while leaning against a tractor.
Imagery aside, think of what would happen if we tried to do what they did here in the US. If we blocked a large slaughterhouse, set free 250 pigs, welded the gates shut and wrote things like “Certificate worst payer”, “Pork bought for one euro, sold for seven euros. Who benefits from this crime?” There is no doubt in my mind we the protesting farmers would have been arrested for these actions. We may even have been called terrorists having the patriot act used against us. I’m sure we’d end up on Fox News with the newest model (ahem, I mean newscaster) berating our decision to terrorize the country and manipulate the food supply. They would go on about how pork should be sold for a$.59 a pound to the packer (that is the recent commodity price-The French are complaining about a $1.40 a pound) They would say that its a free economy, that capitalism will win.
However we know a few things. A: its is not a free market. and has been a socialist market economy for years, with government interference and support for corporations and businesses.
B: we know that pork when raised in a healthy and humane manner manner, cannot be raised for .59 cents a pound. It would be difficult to raise it out doors sustainably and received $1.40 a pound.
C: It is impossible to compete with CFAO’s (Large factory farms) and their scale. They, like walmart, can lower prices to unnaturally low levels because of their scale.
Thankfully, We have a loyal group of wonderful consumers that appreciate that they are paying for quality, sustainability, and fair prices for farmers. It does however, irk me when small local farmers undercut others and under price their product. I know full well that they are have to be losing money and they just want to recoup some money. However, it would be better for all involved to stick with your prices that will pay you back for your labor and investment or get out of the business. That, however, is a discussion for another day.
For today, I’ll take my proverbial hat off to the French for standing up for their livelihood in a way I’m sure we couldn’t here in the USA.