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.

European delegates sign common declaration at Kiserian Global Gathering of Pastoralists

Several shepherd councilors of the European Shepherd Network (ESN) project and other representatives of European shepherd organizations have met in Kiserian, Kenya to constitute a European delegation at the Global Gathering on Pastoralism jointly organized and hosted by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program). From December 9th to 15th 2013, the event gathered 120 pastoralist leaders representing communities in 48 countries worldwide in Kiserian, Kenya, to share experiences and concerns.

Interviews of some of the European delegates can be watched here:

European delegates took this opportunity to discuss their own priorities on the continent and reassert the necessity of having a strong and united movement at EU level to support pastoralism against agribusiness and bureaucracy. Together they have signed and circulated among their respective organizations and partners the following declaration:

“Dear Friends,

Echoing the Kassel encounter in June 2012 on the situation of shepherds in Europe, several pastoral delegates have met and represented the European region at the international gathering on pastoralism in Nairobi, Kenya, from 9 to 15 December 2013. Shepherd representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sami people attended the meeting. During this gathering aiming to discuss global issues of pastoralism and indigenous nomadic people*, a need arose within the European delegation to establish a network that unites, coordinates and supports the struggles of unions and organizations at the European level.
Inspired by the alarming stories of landgrabs of millions of acres shared by East-African participants, the European feeling was that beyond national frontiers, we face common struggles that bring us together.
First comes our fight against anti-pastoral bureaucracy and the multiplication of laws that favor private agribusiness. All over the continent, we organize to defend ourselves and fight against the same European policy, from electronic identification to the conditions of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and of its upcoming reform. Such priorities demand that we act quickly and together at a European level: in particular, the 2015 law project in France on genetic selection could hit other countries, in the line of patenting and privatization of seeds. The problem of predators, wild fauna, environmentalist and health policies are further issues that push us to act together, across national borders, through a strong and united movement. All these struggles are as many opportunities of joining forces and support the values that we share in order to find solutions.
Concretely, our proposal is to come together and organize ourselves into a European network that would be a tool serving its member organizations and collectives. The objective is to encourage exchange, strengthen transnational connections and create federative events. We aim for a diversity of potential actions as long as they align with the preservation of the shepherd way of life. The intention is to coordinate independent actions, which does not prevent us from forming alliances – the European policy we struggle with targets other groups, we are not alone to fight against the rise of control.
This project of a European Shepherd Network can only be collective. Your feedback by email on this intention note would be very useful. We plan on organizing a large European gathering together with an impactful action in 2014, notably to anticipate the 2015 CAP reform and come up of with collective solutions rather instead of everyone suffering its consequences on their own. The other key issue would be to agree on a legal structure that would provide this network with a formal existence.
Everywhere in Europe, public opinion tends to support shepherds. We must take advantage of this current sympathy for our way of life and our struggles and show that beyond defending our values our action contributes to a larger reflection about alternatives to neoliberal Europe.

With our best wishes 
Joshua Bos, shepherd (Netherlands)
Günther Czerkus, shepherd (Germany), founder and spokesman of the German Sheep Breeders Association
Javier Colmenarejo, shepherd (Spain), founder and president of the Spanish Shepherds Federation (FEP)
Fernando Garcia-Dory, artist and agroecologist (Spain), project coordinator, FEP coordinator, council member of the World Alliance for Mobile Indigenous Peope (WAMIP)
Mathias Guibert, shepherd (France)
Nora Kravis, shepherd (Italy)
Norman Leask, shepherd (UK), spokesman of the Scottish Crofting Federation
Alvaro Martin, shepherd (Spain)
Ruth Häck, shepherd (Germany)
Erich Röse, shepherd (Netherlands), spokesman of the National Working Group of Professional Sheep Farmers of the Netherlands

*Indigenous people: social group in situation of numerical inferiority and non-dominance in relation to the the population of a State, with different ethnical, religious and linguistic characteristics and a sense of solidarity aiming to the preservation of its culture, traditions, religion or language (definition of the United Nations Human Rights Commission)”

During a workshop at the Kiseriang Global Gathering

During a workshop at the Kiseriang Global Gathering

European delegates at the Kiseriang Global Gathering

European delegates at the Kiseriang Global Gathering


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.

some sheeps alt text