Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Agribusiness and the climate crisis, access to land and agroecology

Agribusiness is the specific exploitation strategy of capitalism whose main objective is to produce commodities, primary products for export or domestic markets that meet standards and have market value. The agro-industrial complex of which it is a part, responsible for 38 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Argentina, was designed to benefit the few, the owners of the means of production: land, seeds, artificial inputs, machinery and modern technology. . In fact, this strategy, which was not intended to feed the population or spread wealth, is one of the activities that contributes most to global warming and is destroying the climate stability that made agriculture possible.

“Modern agriculture” is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, the extraction of which is subsidized worldwide, as it would not be economically viable otherwise (the energy cost of extraction exceeds the value of the energy received).

In itself, fossil energy is a subsidy from the past, more precisely from the Carboniferous period. It is a highly concentrated form of energy that is running out: peak oil is estimated to be in 2008.

The problem is that all the carbon that has been stored under the Earth for millions of years, when burned, is suddenly released into the atmosphere, where it creates the famous greenhouse effect – the main cause of global warming – and we’re already at 1.2 degrees. Celsius (ºC) temperature above pre-industrial levels.

Today we know that, following this sequence, the Earth will reach at least 3.2ºC of warming by the end of this century. If with “barely” 1.2 degrees more we are seeing such a break in weather patterns, it remains only to imagine what will happen if we don’t curb carbon emissions now. Researchers say we have less than seven years to mitigate the most serious effects.

The climate multi-crisis is not just another crisis. This is the stage where everything else happens. Today no work, plan or project can be thought of without keeping in mind the change in weather patterns, which is already evident.

The production and distribution of food by burning oil and gas has been significantly “cheaper” over the past 200 years, and in fact, food is still relatively cheap today. This is because the negative externalities of its production and transport (for example loss of biodiversity) do not integrate into its final price. Environmentalists and scientists have been warning this for decades: The current agri-food system, linear (as opposed to circular, which recycles) and dependent on oil, is no longer going and must be replaced with the roots.

Credit and Agribusiness

With an unprecedented drought, rural areas suffer more from the consequences of an event than from other economic activity that contributed to creating it. We all know it by now and we’ve been denouncing it for decades: agribusiness based on fossil fuels, heavy machinery, patented transgenic monocultures and the agrochemicals that make up the “tech package” has not only destroyed the biodiversity that which represents eight million hectares. native forests but have decimated entire families and villages, pushing them into poverty belts around the big cities.

This expansion that does not stop, and will increase even more with the need for dollars to pay off foreign debt, is rooted in capitalism. Let’s not forget its founding myth: “grow or perish”.

While it is clear that unlimited growth is physically impossible, most political platforms regard neo-conclusionism as something common and desirable: the solution to all our growth problems. They want us to believe that paying off the debt is only possible with greater destruction of territories, human habitats, and nature (concepts that should be treated and agreed upon as the same thing). Is it possible to honor an unfairly earned promise knowing its disastrous consequences?

If with extractiveness and agribusiness we reach 40 per cent of the poor, an even higher percentage if only children are considered, is it prudent to bet more on the same to get out of poverty?

What are we going to do with access to land?

The planet is getting warmer and drier.

Who will feed us when food production is becoming increasingly difficult?

After the expansion of agribusiness, within a few years the land became concentrated in very few hands and its destination became mainly monoculture production for export. However, 60 percent of the fresh food consumed in the country is produced by small family producers.

This is where diversified production, indigenous, family and farmer-based agro-ecological models have the best chance to adapt to be resilient.

This way of living and producing produces not dollars, like agribusiness, but food. But the reality screams that more than 80 percent of “farms that feed,” mostly small producers, rent the land they work on.

Meanwhile, Law 27,118 on the Historical Reform of the Family, Peasant and Indigenous Agriculture was approved in 2014 but was never regulated and had no budget.

The Land Access Law Project proposes a credit line so family agricultural producers can buy rural land. On the other hand, it aims to create a land bank, which means that the state allocates part of unused public land for sale to family farmers and cultivators through a soft credit system (Procreer Rural).

There is no more real claim than those who fight for tenure of the land on which they work, because the duration of the rental tenure prevents them from building decent houses or establishing any kind of agro-ecological care. IS: All undertakings that recycle energy, water and nutrients have a time to calm down and come into balance.

Additionally, crops that have a long growing cycle require growers to be able to establish themselves without fear that their rental contracts will not be renewed. For this reason, and out of respect for the human dignity of those who produce our food, it is a priority to facilitate access to land for the people who work and care for it.

Land for workers and caretakers

Guaranteeing healthy and nutritious food for the population should be an absolute priority of any government, which is why we urgently need a public, responsible and decisive debate about the ownership and use of land.

By Revolt or Extinction we believe that the way to set this debate in society is in search of more than just the claim necessary to compel political will through direct action. We propose a transition towards a decentralized agriculture ecosystem without intermediaries.

There is complete scientific consensus: We are living through climate and ecosystem collapse. However, we have a small opportunity to reconsider the place of agriculture within a new, more realistic paradigm than the current one, which is clearly inexcusable.

To achieve this, it is necessary to move as quickly as possible to diversified agricultural systems that guarantee food sovereignty, that are not dependent on external markets for goods, that are based on agro-ecology and that allow few people to do business. Not there. A system that regenerates and re-evaluates decent human work, that minimizes inputs, that allows access to land and, above all, ensures that the transition towards a new ecological and climate reality is just and equitable .

Today more than ever it is necessary to put life, in all its forms, before the creation and concentration of wealth.

Ignoring scientific information is the most criminal of political blindness of our times.

Indigenous, family and farmer-based agricultural science must stop being considered only as an option: it is the way to reverse hunger and food dependency and restart agricultural work.

*Rebellion or Extinction (XR) is a social organization that calls for nonviolent direct action to stop the climate crisis.

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