Whether they offer the promise of produce ‘made locally’ or ‘globally’, all farmer have an important role to play and offer to consumers, writes Elena Valenciano.
Elena Valenciano, is a former Spanish MEP in the Socialist and Democrat group
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the world into an unprecedented crisis. In the last fifty years, relations and exchanges – commercial or otherwise – between people have never before been blocked so brutally. The sole objective has been to save lives. Yet, one of the first economic reflexes from the outset was the call by governments for protectionism based on “national” consumption. This “made locally” concept is presented as a miracle solution to our economic woes and the only guarantee of quality for our consumers.
Our civilisation, which for centuries has advocated for global trade, is facing a new world order. The majority of countries have in their DNA a specific and varied agricultural tradition, with products resulting from their own know-how.
It is perfectly legitimate to defend one’s agriculture, know-how and economy. But the opposition between “made locally” and “made globally” comes from a preconceived, misconceived idea of product quality. Insinuating that imported products are always of inferior quality is not only unfair, but it is also misleading.
Nowadays, local, national and international producers have the same ambition: to make a living from their trade by offering sustainable and quality products. To imagine the opposite is pure utopia. Consumers demand nothing less and push all players in this quest for quality and sustainability. As a result, producers strive to ensure the quality, sustainability and transparency of our national products, from the field to the plate.
And there is no doubt that quality has continued to improve thanks to dedicated people, working 365 days a year. This is also due to the progress made in research and development, which has brought more environmentally friendly production methods. The demands of our consumers have evolved in the right direction and offer an opportunity to all because we are all players, we are all consumers.
Approaching the notion of a product’s quality, especially in agriculture, means first of all scrutinising its intrinsic quality, the way it is cultivated. You plant a seed in the ground and make sure that all the stages of production proceed smoothly, until the harvest. Then the environmental quality of the product has a positive impact on the world around it. The notion of quality has no limits or boundaries.
That is why all producers must act responsibly. Whether they offer “made locally” or “made globally”, they each have a role to play by proposing a responsible, sustainable and complementary offer, in the interest of consumers.
It is imperative that producers play a collective role, that they work together, because together they will be able to feed people across the globe and put forward good practices for healthier and more sustainable food. However, there remains one essential question at the heart of every family’s concerns: can trade defend purchasing power?
To this question, the only possible answer is yes, especially in these times of unparalleled economic crisis that we are all experiencing.