The economic emergency situation we are experiencing -general price inflation, escalating energy and basic food prices, reduction of real wages and purchasing power- is an accelerated version of what the government and the Spanish ruling class expected from the Green Deal. What is coming now is the fall of economic activity and an “income pact” that, in order to stop inflation -which was not caused by wages but by the exaggerated margins of the electricity companies, the Ukrainian disaster and the blockade of Russia- is going to consume almost 20% of the purchasing power of a typical wage.
“Food security” is moving to the forefront of the priorities of European states. The agrarian war economy that shaped the EU in the Cold War is back on the immediate agenda. Far beyond sunflower and grains, globally there will come a famine and a new international division of agri-food production; and in Europe a regression of social relations in the countryside and a new push towards the most harmful elements of the agri-food industry. Agri-food production is on the way to becoming war production.
The US durum wheat crop is down 46% and is the smallest in 30 years. Canada, which produces 2/3 of the global wheat trade, is on track to lose 1/3 of production. Add to that the shortage of stockpiles in Europe, the new European CAP and the downward revision of the Russian crop. The result is a speculative boom in the grain futures market. Global durum wheat prices have already rose 30% since mid-July. The “durum wheat crisis” is beginning to hit the plate of workers on both shores of the Mediterranean and from October may have dramatic consequences on basic foodstuffs.
Income distribution data in Europe show increasingly worrying patterns of territorial inequality apparently condemning whole regions to rural depopulation and massive and eternal unemployment. Local nationalisms and regionalisms use these differences to justify their aspirations. But neither the cause of the problems resides in a territorial conflict nor does the solution lie in gaining “levels of statehood” or “a voice in the capital city”.
In various ways several readers have asked us what agriculture will be like under communism. As always the first thing to say is that communist society will not be the product of a preconceived plan to be imposed, but the result of a social process which will open up as we free ourselves from the contradictions of capitalism. However, we can read the trends already underway and explore them in a new installment of our series on communist society.
New protests of farmers and livestock breeders. Two new issues at the forefront: the consequences for the countryside of the Green Deal and the alleged colonial status of Spain’s southern regions.
Germany is getting ready toend off, via taxes, cheap meat. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Under the “green deal” comes an accelerated transformation towards “bio” livestock and agriculture that, at least temporarily, would entail non-tariff barriers to imports from outside the EU and a way to attract capital to the countryside. A trend is beginning that will end the era of cheap meat.
Agricultural and food production has become dysfunctional even within the parameters of the system itself. If agriculture and the food sector are increasingly regulated, subsidized and financialized, it is simply because capitalism does not even work to meet social food needs and the system itself has to prop it up by accumulating band-aids… that do not fix its own underlying dynamics.