The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Association President Markus Ritter is concerned about the image of farmers

Updated at 02 Mar 2024 11:40 am

The President of the Swiss Farmers' Union (SBV), Markus Ritter, is concerned about the image of farmers in view of their protest actions. He hopes that the farmers will be able to win over the population in a sympathetic way. The positive energy of the protest movement should now be used for higher product prices.

"Farmers are very well anchored in politics," said the St. Gallen center-national councilor in the "Samstagsrundschau" of Radio SRF. It would not be understood if the farmers were more aggressive in their protest actions, as in Belgium or France, and obstructed other people.

So far, the activists have understood that they have to win over the population in a sympathetic way. Ritter cited the climate campaigners as a negative example: They had met with a lack of understanding with their increasingly aggressive methods and had damaged their long-term goal.

Ritter admitted that he had been surprised by the protests. In the last 30 to 40 years, he had never seen that the grassroots, especially the young farmers, could organize such protest actions.

Pressure from the grassroots shows initial success

According to Ritter, pressure from the grassroots also contributed significantly to the decision to raise the milk price by three centimes per liter. He pointed out that farmers have uncovered costs of around CHF 300 million, which accounts for five to ten percent of producer prices.

Until now, the 60 or so sector organizations had always conducted the price negotiations with the major distributors. "There was an imbalance," he said. The farmers' association had done too little: "We had to change that in order to be more successful." The farmers' association is therefore becoming more involved in the negotiations.

Ritter also pointed out that consumer prices had increased more than what farmers had received for their products. This means that the margins of processing and trade have increased more. "We also need our share, and this has become smaller and smaller in recent years," Ritter continued.

©Keystone/SDA

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