EFNCP contributes to the consolidation of the Spanish Network of Farmhouse and Artisan Cheese Makers and their work to improve policies
The collaboration between QueRed and EFNCP within the Life-NGO 2015 programme has made it possible to carry out a wide range of essential activities for the rescue and development of small cheese farms in Spain, many of them linked to the viability of HNV farming.
- Consolidation of QueRed, the Association of Farmhouse and Artisan Cheese Makers, widening its membership by the end of the year to over 50 new members including already established cheese farms and young cheese makers-to-be in need of information. Traditional cheese makers have historically lacked national representation and somewhere to turn to for help or information.
- Fostering exchanges in the network through a googlegroup accessed by over 200 members, thus creating a place to share information and seek advice.
- Information and awareness-raising actions at the European level by holding the vice-presidency of the Farmhouse and Artisan Cheese and Dairy Producers European Network (FACE-network). Lobbying undertaken at European level has also begun to yield results.
- Participation in the “Quality and Promotion” Civil Dialogue Group meetings organised by the European Commission (DG-Agri). A working group is being structured to bring together related organisations in order to work on issues of common interest. For instance, this year we have fought for making it compulsory to inform consumers about the origin of the milk and the meat they consume. Another issue we have worked on has been the need to free artisan cheese makers from the obligation of giving nutritional information due to obvious reasons inherent to artisan production: i.e. given the lack of homogeneity of products all year round providing reliable information would require frequent analyses which are economically out of reach of such producers.
- Lobbying actions with relevant Spanish authorities, especially the completion of a document gathering allegations to a Royal Decree project that regulates the controls carried out by raw milk operators in Spain, which are tougher than those specified by European regulations, thus leaving Spanish cheese farms worse off than their European counterparts. The Royal Decree project stems largely from the requests made by QueRed in 2014, which received the support of the major Spanish farmer unions as well as a wide group of organisations from the rural world.
- Elaboration of a series of proposals seeking a change of policies and therefore directed to the main political parties, just before regional and national elections. One result has been the launch of a parliamentary initiative proposing a strategy for the development of flexible criteria for small agroalimentary businesses at regional and national level.
- Organisation of a taste-training session in the Madrid Gourmet Salon, on “exceptional and excluded cheeses”, produced on farms where flexible rules have been applied to cheese production. This legal flexibility is much need for the viability of these small farms, which are also a keystone of High Nature Value farming areas.
- Dissemination through Facebook and Twitter, as well as press releases.
We are certain that these actions are important steps forward in the right direction, and that soon we shall see improvements in the design and application of legal regulations for small agroalimentary businesses in Spain.
Thanks to the Life-NGO programme and EFNCP for making it possible.
Esparto-grass cheese-making material hanging outside a farmhouse cheese dairy in Spain. QueRed has requested national authorities to exempt esparto-grass and other traditional cheese-making materials from certain health requirements, within the flexibility granted by European Regulations. QueRed is waiting for the final decision.
Photo: Rogelio Jimenez
Taste-training session in the Madrid Gourmet Salon, on “exceptional and excluded cheeses” produced on farms where flexible rules have been applied to cheese production.
Photo: Rodolfo del Rio
Slide from a presentation by Inés Blanco (Aecosan - Spanish Food Safety Agency) showing how the Ministry is working to address QueRed’s proposals regarding the adaptation of raw milk controls to farmhouse and artisan cheese dairies.
Photo: Remedios Carrasco
Transhumant cheese-dairy in Gran Canaria (Spain) where flexibility criteria have been applied. Canary Islands is the region in Spain with a higher number of farmhouse cheese dairies.
Photo: Isidoro Jiménez
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