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French famer resistance






For a long time it was impossible to organize resistance to the food markets in France because the farmers were politically divided. There were Republicans, mostly in the Southeast, who were political clients of lawyers in the city, and there were monarchists, mostly in the West, who were political clients of landowners. Consequently, not much happened.

Sectoral mobilizations could be organized. Like for example. when the wine growers of the south of France mobilized a tax strike in 1907 against the counterfeit wines of the chemical industry and over time succeeded in establishing the quality control Appellation d’Origine Controllée. But otherwise nothing happened until after World War II.

Then it was a Catholic anti-hierarchical youth organization, Jeunesse Agricole Chrétienne, which mobilized young farmers for solidarity and modernity, i.e to keep the union together, while investing in new technology. It went well insofar as the program was recognized by the post-war governments – but over time it caused problems to reconcile trade union solidarity with the role of farmers in the market. The larger farms tended to knock out the smaller ones.

Therefore, the JAC and thus also the trade union farmers’ organizations were split in the 60s and 70s. In 1972, in connection with a milk strike, Paysans Travailleurs, now called Confédération Paysanne, or ”Conf” (pictured), was formed on a program where ”modernity” was reinterpreted: instead of chemistry, heavy machinery and the world market, they invested in organic farming and le terroir - or with a modern expression which Conf was involved in launching: food sovereignty – at the same time as solidarity was put at the center.

Confédération Paysanne has since worked as a trade union organization for this goal, with attacks on GMO crops, picnics on the properties of chemical food companies, international organization in Vía Campesina and other environmental issues. In France, Conf is the environmental movement, the environmental commitment of urbanites is less important.

M.C. Cleary: Peasants, politicians and producers, Cambridge University Press 1989
Georges Ferré: 1907, la guerre du vin, Loubatières 1997
Chaia Heller: Food, farms & solidarity, Duke University Press 2013.




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