ESN Contribution to EU CAP Campaign


A coalition of more than  151 civil society organizations have written and signed a Civil Society Statement on the Reform of European Agricultural Policies “Good Food, Good Farming – Now!”

ESN agrees in general with the statement, however we feel that more than making as  general statement ‘ to encourage lower levels of animal product consumption”, that could make the assumption that livestock production is necessarily bad for human health and the environment, we should distinguish the  the role of extensive livestock systems.   Mobile pastoralism,  and the types of animal rearing which our members are involved with not only provide healthy nutrition for people but are also beneficial to the environment.


Read the statement here :

We, the undersigned organisations, believe that the European food and farming system is broken: that it is working for the interests of a few to the detriment of the majority of people, farmers, and the planet.

Europe’s food and farming system directly contributes to a wasteful use of finite global resources and damages the environment by contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, depletion of fisheries, deforestation, soil erosion, water scarcity, as well as water and air pollution. Factory-style farming – largely dependent on imports and a major contributor to antimicrobial resistance – has been promoted at the expense of viable incomes for farmers and jobs in rural areas in Europe, as well as human rights, decent work, and livelihoods in developing countries. Farmers are facing a flawed choice between bankruptcy and further intensification. Farmers practising credible alternatives like organic and agro-ecological agriculture remain on the fringes in favour of business as usual. At the same time, high levels of undernourishment, the rapid rise in obesity and unhealthy diets are among the main causes of death and disease both in Europe and worldwide.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has contributed to this broken food and farming system through the promotion of agro-industrial farming methods and global commodity chains. In order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement, the EU must carry out a radical reform of the CAP and related policies. A fairer, more sustainable and resilient system is urgently needed. The undersigned organisations call for a major transformation of Europe’s food and farming system on the basis of the following principles:

Fair and diverse food and farming economies: ensure a fair income and decent work conditions for farmers and farm workers; facilitate access to farmland for sustainable peasant farming; encourage short supply chains and sustainable public procurement policies; grant fair access to high quality products for all consumers; prevent negative impacts on people’s right to food and on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the global south.

Healthy environment and a food and farming system that respects animal welfare: ensure the end of harmful     subsidies; reward and incentivise the delivery of positive environmental and social outcomes; restore and prevent further loss of biodiversity; encourage conservation and active use of genetic diversity; ensure agricultural production is free from synthetic chemical pesticides and mineral fertilisers that harm the environment; prevent and minimise food waste throughout the food chain; halt food and feed imports linked to deforestation; ensure that animal health and welfare are effectively respected; replace the current industrial livestock system with extensive alternatives where animals are not treated as mere commodities and the balance between livestock and land capacity is ensured, while the overuse of antibiotics prevented; radically reduce emissions from farming and ensure a transition towards a resilient food and farming system.

Support for citizens’ health and well-being: ensure our food and farming system fosters healthy, nutritious, seasonal, local, culturally appropriate and affordable diets; encourage lower levels of animal product consumption; raise citizens’ awareness of the impacts of consumption on their own health, on farmers, animals and the environment; prevent negative impacts of agricultural methods on the health of farmers, farm workers and rural populations.

A publicly accountable food system with participatory governance, citizens’ empowerment and democracy:  involve citizens in transparent decision making processes; prevent corporate capture of decision making; empower local communities to lead the transformation.

We are committed to achieving a real transition by working in partnership with farmers, citizens and policy-makers. Therefore, we urge the European institutions and national policymakers to rethink the role and direction of European agriculture policies and use the principles presented above as a basis for the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy reform process.

All together for Food Sovereignity : ESN is calling for Nyeleni Europe conference

ESN is member of the Coordination Committee that is organising next Nyeleni Europe Conference. From the 26th to 30th of October, hundreds of people from the entire Europe and Central Asia will meet in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, for the second Forum of the Nyéléni European Movement for Food Sovereignty!For 5 days, farmers, fishers, pastoralists, indigenous people, consumers, trade unions, environmental/justice/solidarity/human rights organizations, community-based food movements, journalists, researchers from more than 42 countries will bring existing food sovereignty initiatives together, sharing and connecting experiences and planning a pan-European strategy and plan for future food and agriculture.

Join !   more information at


Calling for the 5th ESN Assembly !!! 21-23 September 2016, St.-Floir, France

5th Meeting of the European Shepherds Network
St. Floir – Cantal – France 
Celebrating the European Week of Mountain Local Breeds, and hosted by   CORAM and Aubrac and Salers Livestock Breeders Unions from Central France the 16- 25 September in St. Floir,  ESN members, grassroots pastoralist organisations  from different countries,  will take part in a public seminar the 21 – 22 September,  around the question of the autonomy of livestock systems, and the importance of local breeds on it, as well as the impact of Common Agricultural Policy on mobile pastoralist systems across Europe.
The 22nd we expect to have a meeting with the French Ministry of Agriculture to explain our conclusions.
The 23rd,  ESN will also hold its 5th meeting and assembly to discuss the action plan for the future.
We will be organising ESN travels and calling for support to donor organizations.
See you in Saint-Floir !
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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism to host 2015 Conference in Ireland

The European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism (EFNCP) will host its annual Conference in Corofin (County Clare, Ireland) on 22-24 October 2015. The speakers will be farmers and specialists coming from diverse High Nature Value landscapes across Europe. The event will also be a gathering of EFNCP members.

Details, programme and booking form:

Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein Erklärung

Vor zwei wochen haben sich mehr als 50 Hirten aus 17 Länder für das von ESN organisierte Europäisches Hirtentreffen in Koblenz getroffen und eine gemeinsame Erklärung unterzeichnet.

Unsere Mitglieder sind aktiv, um diese Aussage in ihrer Region und Netzwerke umzulaufen, aber bitte helfen Sie uns damit, die Forderungen der europäischen Hirten zu unterstützen durch den Download und die Übertragung der Erklärung!

Hier lesen
Als PDF herunterladen

Third ESN meeting in Koblenz, Germany

From 26 to 28 June, more than 50 shepherds from 17 European countries have met at the European Pastoralists Assembly organized by ESN in Koblenz, Germany to share the problems they are facing, discuss solutions and agree on further actions to be developed by European Shepherds Network.

The successful meeting resulted in a common declaration signed by participating delegations. We will be posting the statement and further materials about the outcomes of this important event very soon.  In the meanwhile, here are a few pictures of united pastoralists.

Europäisches Hirtentreffen: Hirten behüten!

Pastoralisten helfen gegen Hunger und schützen gleichzeitig die Umwelt. Wie kann man den europaweiten Rückgang dieser Berufsgruppe stoppen? Wie kann man das Wissen und das Können der Wandertierhalter zwischen Mittelmeer und Polarkreis erhalten?

Diesen Fragen soll im Rahmen des Pastoralist Knowledge Hub, initiiert durch die Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), nachgegangen werden.

Es gibt in Europa viele Organisationen und Zusammenschlüsse von Organisationen für Schaf- und Ziegenhalter.

Die allermeisten Haltungen sind stationär, sehr viele sind Kleinstbetriebe oder Hobbyhaltungen. (Beispiel Deutschland: Anzahl der Betriebe 2010: 22.273, Anzahl der Schafe: 2.088.541, entspricht etwa 94 Schafe pro Betrieb)

Die Bedürfnisse, Sorgen und Probleme der Pastoralisten kommen dort aber nur am Rande zum tragen.

Seit einigen Jahren treffen und unterstützen sich Hirten in Europa. Sie wollen sich besser kennen lernen, Interessen bündeln, stärkere Aufmerksamkeit bekommen – vor allem aber gemeinsam für weniger Bürokratie und bessere Einkommen kämpfen.



This Assembly will take place in Koblenz (Germany) from 26-28 of June. We are inviting 2 pastoralist representatives from each country in Europe. If you want to nominate or apply to participate, please write to before the 17th of June.

The only continental wide organization representing pastoralist grassroot groups and regional chapter of the World Alliance of Mobile and Indigenous Pastoralists (WAMIP) European Shepherd Network (ESN) is moving forward in its mission of bringing together pastoralist and making their voice be heard.

The agenda is available here: ESN-meeting-2015.05.25-EN.

ESN awarded grant by FAO to develop regional pastoralist Hub

ESN has succeeded in securing funding for at least two years from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that will enable it to strengthen the regional dialogue between shepherd organizations, implement actions at the European level, and become a strong entity with an operative secretariat during at least 2015 and 2016 to serve the purposes of its members.

The grant provided by the FAO covers the organization of a European-level meeting in 2015, set to happen in Koblenz, Germany on June 26-27-28. Shepherd leaders and Union representatives of the extensive livestock farming sector will be invited to discuss shared issues, such as:
– CAP implementation and national legal frameworks
– wild fauna and predator species
– land issues
– ecosystem services and climate change
– cultural identity and preservation of the shepherd way of life

The agreement with FAO also includes a regional identification process expected to result in a census of pastoral organizations in the EU countries.


Organisations of cattle breeders and shepherds from all over Europe will protest in this manner against the mandatory introduction of an electronic chip on each animal.
On 7 March more than 500 shepherds will meet to hear the verdict of the European Court in Strasbourg.
Several organisations of small cattle breeders from different European countries (France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, etc.) working in extensive farming, in filing a claim against Individual Electronic Identification (EID) that the German Sheep Breeders Association filed in 2012 before the Court of Stuttgart that is currently pending a decision by the European Court of Justice.

On 7 March, representatives of shepherds from all over Europe will meet in Strasbourg after they were summoned by the European Court based in this city.

The claim was filed because of the flaws in the system at the time in which it is to be implemented, particularly in its pin form. These deficiencies have been reported in all Member States where the system has been implemented, as well as the injury it results in for the tagged animal.

In addition to its inefficiency, this system involves several bureaucratic phases and costs for farmers that we deem excessive at all levels, and are the same whether or not a disease has broken out.

According to the coordinator of the European Shepherds Network, Fernando García-Dory: “Making the chip compulsory is the last straw in a series of absurd and inconsistent policies for small livestock farms that are so valuable for the environment and society in Europe. Such policies are designed in Brussels without any input from farmers and are cut off from reality in the field. They might end a way of life that is already seriously endangered by the low prices that the global market imposes and other causes. The EID results exclusively from an excessive desire for control and bureaucratisation of agriculture as well as the economic interests of those who produce the device. This is a historic moment in which shepherds from all over Europe are uniting and saying “Enough is enough”. We know that the public prefers shepherds, rural landscapes and high-quality products over industrialisation and mechanisation of food production concentrated in few companies that continue to cause food scares and animal discomfort.”

Eight shepherd from across Europe meet in Kassel, Germany

On June 23, members from ESN – European Shepherd Network – from seven European countries and a local shepherd held a public meeting in the Ständehaus as part of the dOCUMENTA (13) conference program in Kassel, Germany.

The assembly gathered sheep herders and farmers  who discussed the creation of European Shepherd Network, an organization to give this community a voice and make it visible. They also commented on current campaigns by shepherds and their relation to public opinion and to their animals.

The event included the screening of a documentary recounting the journey of German shepherds from Berlin and Brussels to Trier.

documenta is the world’s largest contemporary art exhibition, running in Kassel every 5 years.

A Shepherd Assembly, an ESN event in Kassel

Why support shepherds? Open letter by a ESN member

Shepherds are vital – we need them!

Their work is invaluable.

Permanent grassland is rich in plant and animal species. It is the best way to manage and protect land.

– It is the most effective way to protect the soil from wind and water erosion.
- It filters out pollutants and delivers clean drinking water.
- It absorbs carbon dioxide better than any other land use.
- It offers a habitat for countless endangered plants and animals.

But species-rich permanent grassland does not come by itself.
It is the result of decades of work by experts – the shepherds.

Without their dedication and effort, this land would turn into forest or desert.

The work of shepherds is very special:

In our work and daily life, we all consume resources.
But through their work, shepherds safeguard resources. They improve habitats and the health of soil, water and air. They produce high-quality meat, milk, hides and wool. They create irreplaceable benefits for nature and the environment.

That is why shepherds are vital. That is why we need them!

The electronic identification for sheep case

The case 
Vereinigung Deutscher Landesschafzuchtverbände e. V. (VDL) is carrying against the individual animal identification – towards herd identification (batch identity) – shows the first results:

The Higher Administrative Court of Koblenz has basically declared the action admissible. This is a necessary prerequisite for a hearing before the European Court of Justice. There are other indications that we have a good chance to make it to Luxembourg.

This success before the German court has made Sergio Pavon Gonzalez, Policy Officer, DG SANCO to personally asked to be kept informed.

We must now solve the following problem:
When we come to the European Court, all 27 Member States and the Commission will be asked for their position regarding the complaint.
Some states will not respond.

Therefore, we ask for  reports from as many organizations throughout Europe as possible highlighting all the problems with the system.

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