Gertrud Häseli is a Green councilor, Fricktal farmer, member of the Aargau Farmers Association (BVA) and a candidate for the National Council. But the list of candidates supported by the association lacks their name. "Gertrud Häseli does not support her candidacy for the National Council by the Farmers' Association," confirms Executive Board member Hans-Ueli Lüscher on request. This is because Häseli does not say YES to the Drinking Water Initiative and the "For Switzerland without synthetic pesticides" (pesticide initiatives) initiative.
To direct his political work to the model of the Aargau Farmers' Association and to reject these two documents are the conditions for election support. This support includes the requirement for an election campaign of 300 francs as well as a mention in the media.
"I didn't sign this statement," says Gertrud Häseli. As a Green politician, he supports measures against the use of pesticides as well as against the prophylactic use of antibiotics. To say no is not an option for her, says Häseli.
Far too radical for the Farmers Association
The federal and national councils have spoken out against the initiatives. The Council of States will consider them in the autumn session next month. If they do not withdraw, they are expected to go to the polls in May 2020.
Not only the cantonal, but also the Swiss Agricultural Association opposes the radical initiatives that it considers to be. Agriculture takes agriculture seriously and recognizes the need for action. This association sees the right tool not in the referendum, but in its own action plans.
"These are recommendations that make sense but are not binding," says Gertrud Häseli. Better, binding measures are needed. This could also take the form of a counter-proposal to the initiatives so that they can be withdrawn. "I would very much support that." Some points, such as feeding animals solely on farm food, are actually too radical and difficult for farmers to spend.
Candidates who support the proposal would not be excluded from the support, says Hans-Ueli Lüscher. This is precisely the problem of the Aargauer Bauernverband practice, says Martin Bossard, head of policy at Bio Suisse, the umbrella organization of Swiss organic producers labeled Knospe. "The political process is still ongoing. It is not even clear if the initiatives will really go to the polls, but it is already being done."
The Aargau Agricultural Association and organic farming are quite compatible, Bossard says. This can already be seen from the fact that Alois Huber, SVP's organic farmer, is the chairman of the association. Today, every seven farms in Switzerland operate in accordance with organic guidelines, says Martin Bossard, because there is an awareness of the concerns of the initiatives. Bossard is a candidate for the Aargau National Council of Greens, but is not a member of the Agricultural Association. It works closely with the Swiss Farmers Association. "Bio Suisse and the farmers' association don't always agree. But we have a lot of the same problems," he says.
Even Bio Suisse is not completely satisfied with the content of the two initiatives. "In our view, it would be best to work on an indirect counter-proposal," Bossard explains. He finds the awful debate about pesticides counterproductive. "Farmers are already trying to be more environmentally friendly. No one denies it. If they had to defend the use of pesticides in the voting campaign, it would not be effective. "However, much stricter regulations on the use of pesticides are needed, as well as stronger promotion of organic farming.
The Farmers Association adheres to its decision
The electoral recommendations are the sovereignty of the cantonal sections of the farmers' associations. He is not aware that in other cantons, green farmers are being denied support to support two pesticide initiatives, says Martin Bossard. "The Swiss Farmers' Association is working more purposefully than the Aargauer section to find good solutions for green agriculture with green forces," he concludes.
The Aargau Agricultural Association probably did not like the decision for this practice, according to Gertrud Häseli. She had long discussions with the representatives of the associations, but in the end remained in the attitude towards the initiatives. The same goes for the Farmers Association: "Without a clear commitment to initiatives, we cannot support anyone," says board member Hans-Ueli Lüscher.