Patrick Mundler, rural recipes

Patrick Mundler, les recettes de la ruralité

Rural recipes

In Quebec, during the COVID crisis , how many times have we heard that our food supplies are at risk? In fact, some may have run out of toilet paper, but no one experienced starvation. The system resisted the global explosion of the virus very well. This did not prevent many from raising a debate on food autonomy, or even food self-sufficiency.

Patrick Mundler knows a lot about issues concerning agriculture. Holder of a doctorate in economic sciences from the Université Lumière Lyon 2, he taught at the Rhône-Alpes Higher Institute of Agriculture before heading the social sciences and management department there for twelve years. In Quebec since 2013, the full professor of rural development has held the reins of the department of agri-food economics and consumer sciences at Laval University.

In his eyes, self-sufficiency is illusory. Although it is very good to cultivate what we consume, we must still be aware that this independence cannot be achieved without the massive importation of machinery, seeds, fertilizers and a workforce. increasingly important foreign work. The research he is carrying out focuses on the role that agriculture should play in the region, on an economic, ecological and social level.

Patrick Mundler believes that in addition to serving to feed people, agriculture must also ensure the development and occupation of the territory, the production of social good in rural communities and the care of natural resources and the soil. He believes that this can only be achieved by recognizing the knowledge and practices of farmers and local communities. It is also important to promote agroecology and biodiversity.

This Swiss native who briefly began his professional life in raising goats to concoct a small production of cheese with high added value is convinced that we should escape the commercial logic of competition and productivist industrial models.

“If you want to have agriculture in territories which do not necessarily have all the agroclimatic advantages and you seek to make them the most competitive in the world, it will disappear. It will specialize so much that there will no longer be diversity. To have social vitality throughout the national territory, diverse landscapes and agriculture that makes good use of environmental resources, we must have policies that will protect the profession and those who practice it. »

From a socio-economic point of view, Mr. Mundler notes that farmers have engaged in a headlong rush. They must constantly produce more and expand their facilities to avoid finding themselves left behind in a runaway race. Unfortunately, this marathon does not necessarily allow you to earn a better living. Also, the professor would like us to slow down the movement a little in order to promote a model that preserves our resources in addition to feeding people.

This spiral of prices of farms and land creates a huge problem for the next generation. In addition to making the purchase prohibitive, those who nevertheless manage to take possession of a piece of land are forced to repay the mortgage within 20 or 30 years. “I think that to promote agricultural recovery, we should see land differently than as individual property. » In Switzerland, he says, land mortgages are spread over 100 years and passed from one generation to the next. “Even if the farmer only pays the interest without paying the capital. And it continues like this from generation to generation. »

One thing, Patrick Mundler would like to see an attractive retirement pension system established for farmers who are old enough to put down the pitchfork. If the land no longer constituted the pension fund, it could remain in the family or be rented long-term to farmers wishing to take over. “It's uncommon in Quebec, but career or long-term leases are done in Europe and it's profitable. » We bet that many would like him to be a prophet in his adopted country!

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