British Farmer leads Countryside protest in Warsaw


Press Release 11 September 2001

“British Farmer leads Countryside protest in Warsaw”

Sir Julian Rose and Jadwiga Lopata, the British and Polish directors of the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside, will be leading a protest in Warsaw on 19 September, to highlight the need for the Polish Government to adopt policies that ensure the future around two million of Poland’s farms.

Polish elections are being held at a critical point when the future of the Polish countryside hangs in the balance. Yet significantly, none of the main political parties appears to have put forward a clear and creative vision of how to protect and promote this great international asset.

ICPPC launched Charter 21, a Countryside Manifesto for 21st Century Poland (attached) to highlight a number of key policy decisions that need to be taken now, in light of the current EU accession negotiations and in order to secure a positive future for Polish rural enterprise and the continued independence of the small artisan farmer. Charter 21’s bold message has attracted the support of 200 Polish and international organisations, representing more than 3 million people, in less than six months, from farmers, labour unions and ecological organisations to parliamentarians, artists and concerned consumers.

Jadwiga Lopata and Sir Julian Rose believe that this response to Charter 21 sends a powerful message to both national politicians and EU negotiators, to listen to the voice of the countryside and to act decisively on the Charter’s objectives – before it is too late.

In order to further raise public and political awareness, ICPPC’s leaders and supporters will be staging a symbolic COUNTRYSIDE PROTEST on the 19th September 2001 at Plac Zamkowy in Warsaw, beginning at 12 noon and ending around 2 pm. The event will highlight key concerns of the national and international signatories to Charter 21, in particular the belief that:

  • Every citizen has the right to healthy, nutritious food, produced locally through ecologically sensitive methods of farming
  • Appropriate support must be given to maintain the infrastructure needed to grow, process and market such foods throughout the country
  • The internationally recognised biodiversity of the Polish countryside can best be enhanced and preserved by keeping many small farmers on the land.
  • The Polish government should prevent the erosion of traditional rural enterprise by controlling and regulating multinational corporations’ intervention, and by rejecting inappropriate EU food and farming regulations.
  • Poland should be kept free from GMOs.
  • Modern ecological technologies should be introduced into the Polish countryside.

The COUNTRYSIDE PROTEST aims to reinforce these points by bringing the countryside to the city as a symbolic reminder that in a healthy society, town and country are mutually interdependent and cannot be sustained once they are socially, environmentally and economically divorced from each other.

The directors of ICPPC stated “We are enormously encouraged by the level of support for Charter 21 and believe that it represents a powerful voice for the future of the Polish countryside – a voice which neither Polish nor European politicians can afford to ignore.” Sir Julian Rose added “Europe needs a country to stand up against the indiscriminate and destructive forces of globalisation and to show the world that small-scale artisan farming still represents the best model we have for the long term sustainable management of our irreplaceable resources”.

Together with ICPPC the co-organisers of the COUNTRYSIDE PROTEST are the National Farmers Union and Farmers’ organisations, the League to Protect Nature and Independent Farmers Solidarity.

Notes to editors:

  • The National Farmers’ Union represents over one million members. The League to Protect Nature has 260,000 members.
  • Polish General Elections are being held on 23 September 2001
  • ICPPC has 41 member organisations from 18 countries. Its directors are:
  • Jadwiga Lopata from Poland, the initiator of ICPPC and President of ECEAT-Poland (the European Centre for Ecological Agriculture and Tourism), and member of an international organization Ashoka – Innovators for the Public.
  • Sir Julian Rose from the UK, organic farmer, owner and manager of Hardwick Estate, Council member of the Soil Association, co-founder of the Association of Unpasteurised Milk Producers and Consumers. His advice has been sought by the British government and by local authorities. Recently he has become involved in promoting holistic solutions to the countryside crisis. Since November 2000 he has made frequent visits to Poland’s main farming regions, speaking to farmers’ groups and leaders of local authorities. He has spoken in the Polish parliament and his views have been carried extensively in the Polish media. He is the author of “Charter 21”.