Name of organisation
Charter in Motion (Chartre en Mouvement)
Type of organisation
Community-supported agriculture network
“short food supply chains”; “civic food networks”; “social justice”; Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
What is the "Charter in Motion" initiative?
The AMAP trademark is registered at the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), as the property of the MIRAMAP. It is linked to the AMAP Charter, published by MIRAMAP. The AMAP Charter can therefore be used as a legal reference in any case of suspected misleading advertising, for instance in case of the use of pesticides or purchase and resale of agricultural products by a farmer, which are in contradiction with the Charter. Moreover, there are currently issues related to the taxation of AMAP associations, in particular linked to dematerialized payments: http://miramap.org/Le-paiement-dematerialise-en-AMAP-oui-sous-conditions.html
The “Charter in Motion” project tries to face these issues. It is a working group made up of members of Board of Directors of the French national CSA network, MIRAMAP, a MIRAMAP employee and local AMAP networks’ employees, all of whom are also members of the MIRAMAP Ethics and Legal Commission.
Its main objectives are: 1) to design tools to evaluate how the AMAP charter is actually implemented, 2) to help AMAP groups and farmers improve their practices with regard to the Charter.
The “Charter in Motion” initiative is a collective movement-building effort: instead of referring to principles set in stone, the idea is to look at the common ground of the AMAP movement, the Charter, as a living organism. The AMAP Charter needs continuous adaptation in order to remain relevant to the diverse set of practitioners who use it.
The “Charter in Motion” is intended to focus on a collective effort to design concrete tools and methodologies necessary to address each particular real-life situation relating to the charter. Its developers believe this is an effective way to foster the continuous emergence of innovative solutions. Current aims of the initiative include:
- Developing approaches, trainings, and tools to assist in decision-making and problem-solving.
- Aapting the methods and tools according to the people they are intended for (AMAP network administrators or employees, AMAP group coordinators, AMAP farmers) and the needs they are supposed to meet (for example starting a new AMAP partnership or facing a conflictual situation). Historically, these approaches and methods have been inspired by the principles and goals of PGS (Participatory Guarantee System). Therefore, a deep exploration of what are PGS is important when developing methodologies of this kind.
The working group is supervised by the Ethical and Legal Commission of the MIRAMAP. The Commission is itself accountable to the Collective (Board of Directors) of the MIRAMAP.
Who does the “Charter in Motion” project work with and how does it do it?
The local AMAP networks which are members of the national network MIRAMAP do already have materials about the Charter and the common ground of the AMAP movement: analysis regarding legal aspects, knowledge regarding history and AMAP participatory assessment or self-assessment tools. They are closely involved in the process. Other key partners are organizations such as Nature et Progrès for its experience developing its own Participatory Guarantee System (the oldest in the world), FADEAR and the farmers’ union Confédération Paysanne (founding member of La Via Campesina) as creators of the concept of Agriculture Paysanne (peasant agriculture). We also approached the Brussels GASAP network to share their experience of applying PGS to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives. In-depth work with URGENCI had been conducted on the subject during a previous project, EATingCRAFT (click on the link CSA and Participatory Guarantee System for more information).
Involving the actors of the AMAP Movement at different levels is fundamental to benefit from the most active forces. Nature et Progrès has been instrumental in instructing MIRAMAP about how to apply PGS to CSA, in particular through the EATingCRAFT project which enabled several key MIRAMAP members to understand PGS as a whole and its potential of adaptability. Yet, there is still a need to share this knowledge more largely within the AMAP movement.
As MIRAMAP’s decision-making processes are horizontal, and ample resources and a lot of time are needed to achieve its operational objectives. This requires a lot of effort in terms of pedagogy and strategic planning to take into account the limited resources of the organisations involved, while also guaranteeing them an optimal use of their contributions and, of course, results adapted to their needs!
What are the “Charter in Motion” project’s main challenges?
The challenges linked to the charter are about pedagogy (many members are not aware of the existence of the AMAP charter and the registration at the National Institute of Industrial Property), individual risks (some AMAP can face consequences of misleading advertising because they have occasionally inappropriate practices) and collective risks (an initiative calling itself AMAP and being totally out of the AMAP Charter principles can be convicted, and that could damage the AMAP’s reputation).
The AMAP are considered to be ULOs (Unidentified Legal Objects) by some of the lawyers who are helping them. There is indeed a legal vagueness that regularly leads the AMAP networks and MIRAMAP into explaining what AMAP are to the public authorities. For more precision on the existing legal challenges for the AMAP model, please refer to the document Le Chemin vers la Charte des AMAP, “legal” section: http://miramap.org/IMG/pdf/chemin_vers_la_charte_2014_des_amap.pdf This document shows the importance of clarifying the semantics: delivery and distribution are not legally equivalent in the French law, the commercial meaning of which has major practical implications for AMAP regarding sanitary rules, the risk of assimilation to bulk sales and the authorisation to use public places.
The main response to the above problems has been to develop a Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) approach and other forms of participatory evaluation. It is hoped that PGS might also help to define the role of a whole range of actors who are not technically AMAP producers or members, but who yet have a role (positive or negative) in the AMAP model.
MIRAMAP has become aware of a number AMAP management softwares now being offered online. These may have been created for profit, in contradiction with the values of the AMAP Charter, meaning part of the payments may no longer directly reach the farmers. In this case, it seems the legal frame of direct sales is no longer applying. MIRAMAP has also been engaging with the issue of what to do with artisans, like bakers, who do not produce the raw material but are nevertheless seeking to build partnerships with AMAP groups. Depending on their objectives and the way their business operates, the AMAP Charter may or may not be respected. PGS is used as a way to assess each real-life situation.
What are the priorities for the “Charter in Motion” project?
The following strategic priorities were identified during MIRAMAP’s internal ‘campfire’ meetings:
- Keep the AMAP Charter as a compass, a horizon towards which to aim, while keeping a popular education and non-coercive approach. Indeed, the MIRAMAP network’s board members don’t want to use a coercive approach to improve AMAP practices but, at the same time, they sometimes have to accept that it may take time for some AMAP. Coercive means might eventually be used when facing an initiative calling itself AMAP while having opposite practices, that, after several attempts, doesn’t want to discuss with the MIRAMAP and continues its bad practices.
- It is important to consult MIRAMAP members on a permanent basis, in order to keep the ‘common set of values’ up to date.