Reference : “Fairebel” fair milk: a multi-level innovation
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
“Fairebel” fair milk: a multi-level innovation
Feyereisen, Marlène mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > DER Sc. et gest. de l'environnement (Arlon Campus Environ.) > Gouvernance de l'environnement >]
Melard, François mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > DER Sc. et gest. de l'environnement (Arlon Campus Environ.) > DER Sc. et gest. de l'environnement (Arlon Campus Environ.) >]
The 11th European IFSA Symposium
1-4 April 2014
[en] Fair Trade ; Innovation ; Transition ; Multi-level governance ; Milk ; Dairy Industry
[en] The research focuses on the case study of the Belgian fair-trade milk “Fairebel”, which was created by dairy farmers a few months after the 2009 European milk crisis. This innovation is overseen by the “Fair Milk” programme set up by the European Milk Board (EMB), a European organization of dairy farmers, which has established five fair-trade milk labels in European countries (Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France).
At the Belgian level, the case study of the “Fairebel” project shows how the dairy system is institutionally, politically, and technically locked in. In such an irreversible system, the developers of “Fairebel” have had to use cunning and espouse some contradictions (even inconsistencies) in order to build their idea of fair-trade milk and to achieve its commercialization in the real world of commodities. Also, the “Fairebel” project is trying to increase the market power of dairy farmers and by-passes entirely the dairy industry in Belgium, which refused to support the project. For example, the developers of “Fairebel” stock up on the spot market and the Fairebel” milk cartons are produced and filled by the Luxembourg co-operative dairy Luxlait. On this level, the “Fairebel” project is more a “reorientation of trajectories” than a radical transition of the system: It uses internal resources of the main system to try to change some of its detrimental consequences, such as the prices paid to dairy farmers, without forcing through associated structural transitions.
On the European level of the EMB, in which “Fairebel” participates, the transition of the system is radicalized by changing the character and the structure of the regime itself (e.g. CAP): reversal of the balance of power between dairy farmers and dairy processors, re-appropriation of the means of production by the farmers, and modification of the economic and trade rules of the dairy products (e.g., monitoring agency).
Taken together, these two levels of this fair-milk innovation strengthen each other, so that the transition that “Fairebel” has inspired is more radical than it would seem when the Belgian level is considered alone.
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