As the current industrial food system is stuck in a structural crisis regarding environmental degradation, health issues and pressures on farmers livelihood, we propose considering the transformative potential of a basic income as an innovative food policy tool to further the transition towards fairer and more sustainable food systems.
Besides the fact that it would reduce the vulnerability of farmers towards food price volatility and climate hazards, a basic income given individually, unconditionally and automatically to all food producers could considerably enhance the bargaining power of farmers vis-à-vis commodity buyers, food processors and retailers.
This emancipation and resilience tool might also encourage the extension of the role of farming beyond mere production, e.g. by developing on-farm processing activities, direct selling or adapting the production patterns that better meet consumers expectations.
Basic income might therefore galvanize locally-anchored and small-scale farming systems that are more sustainable and have a virtuous effect on other sectors of the local economy and thus on rural development.Creating a basic welfare system for farmers would trigger a shift in the current food subsidies system and tend to overcome the productivist agri-food paradigm.
As the Common Agriculture Policy is being re-negotiated for the post-2020 landscape and pilot-projects are being launched, there are good opportunities to promote this innovative measure within the EU.
Indeed, complementary food policy measures have to be discussed to design a consistent and long-term strategy for the future of agriculture worldwide. That’s why the French movement MFRB and Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE) are looking forward to gathering all stakeholders around the table.