Biblio (73) Food and territory in Switzerland

Some months ago, this site had a series or posts on food sovereignty and several views on that issue. It was a success (when related to the general statistics of the site, which I must admit are humble…), and in a recent conversation with a new friend (Marta), I just saw that this is still an interesting issue for many people, and not just farmers.

To a certain degree, many countries have land laws that recognize that food is a vital social need that justifies restrictions to the use that can be allowed on highly productive agricultural areas. This seems at first glance a self- evident truth, but our fridges and powerful food logistic chains sometimes make us forget; agriculture has become one among many uses for land, and it is subject to market forces that try to maximize profit on a yearly basis (or simply to survive). It is often a legal paragraph, that has to be dealt with at the local planning scale, so it is far from being applied with a uniform, strategic approach over large territories, and its control is far from satisfying.

The Swiss, with their tradition of neutrality and the presence of powerful neighbours whose friendship has not always been guaranteed, have taken seriously the idea of food sovereignty for a number of reasons that include crisis; this does not mean that the country is independent in terms of food production, but rather that they care about agricultural land conservation. So they have defined a national plan to that end with a preventive approach: the land included is not bound to a compulsory cultivation scheme, but has restrictions on transformation. An interesting read, that can be complemented with a review of the first ten years of the plan and its effects when applied at the Canton level (state, remember Switzerland is a Confederation).

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