Agriculture between technological innovation and global responsibility
In the context of the 11th Forum for future development of Rural Areas, COMECE organised in Berlin a high-level panel of experts to find out how the Catholic Church can support and accompany farmers in times of fundamental changes of their work and their living conditions.
Farmers and rural areas are under pressure due to high expectations. They are called to produce safe and high quality food for affordable prices as well as material for renewable energy, to offer spaces for recreation and to protect the environment and its biodiversity.
From the classical man «working the land» the farmer becomes more and more an entrepreneur, using high-end technology to milk his cows (ex. milking robots), monitoring his crops (ex. drones), placing his products on global markets and documenting the use of operating materials (ex. fertilizers) and the efficient implementation of the received subsidies.
During the event, participants highlighted how the high pressure on the farmers causes them to stop their business without a generational renewal. It is a hemorrhage with no simple remedy due to the fact that it is not easy to know how to support farmers in their struggle to balance demands and expectations, technological progress and responsibility for «the Earth, our Common House».
In his Encyclical «Laudato Si’» Pope Francis elaborated the global guidelines for this struggle, but it will be up to the local and regional level to use those guidelines and put them into practice accordingly to local possibilities and cultural peculiarities.
To understand and to accompany this process - not only in the rural areas - will be a key challenge for the Catholic Church in the years to come. COMECE will continue monitor these challenges and look for practical solutions in dialogue with the EU institutions and in partnership social actors working for the Common Good.