My Dad and I breed autochthonous cattle, ‘Maronesa’, on 150 ha of private land and 400 ha of common lands. We are slowly transforming the bush-covered area into pasture. Maronesa eat grass, but also some bushes with fresh growth. Grazing common lands reduces wildfire impact and ‘cleans’ the mountains in an economically viable way. We care deeply about animal welfare. I’m a member of ‘Terra Maronesa’, which encourages circular economy, local products, improves farmers’ income and incentivises Maronesa cattle farmers’ use of common land. I graduated in management and, besides farming, I teach short courses. It’s hard to have a Sunday off or a holiday.
The biggest challenge I’m facing is regulation and legal paperwork. Most farmers in my region are over the age of 60 and have tiny farms (5 Maronesa cows). It’s hard to access enough land for a sustainable farm. In Portugal to access 20 ha, someone would likely have to buy or rent 20 different lands, with 10 different owners. One opportunity I see is using land that has been abandoned.
I think cooperation is essential for the future of farming: sharing knowledge, visions, problems, concerns, helps us see things in different ways.