A. ANEC’s organizational model
Developing an organizational model that meets the needs of this diverse membership, and allows for decision-making and policy advocacy that amplifies their collective interests in national and international policy arenas is a challenge. There are conflicting interests and competing needs. Balancing between the business-like nature of farmer organizations (their need to be profitable), and ANEC’s overall socio-political objectives, requires navigation and democratic deliberation. A decentralized governance structure helps the organization collectively work for better conditions for all its member farmers while simultaneously attending to their diverse needs. Clearly defined democratic principles and good governance practices (See further below, Appendix I.b; Appendix I.c) combined with an interdisciplinary staff that works collaboratively to transmit information and coordinate spaces for dialogue and debate, helps ANEC build the capacities of local level leadership and membership to foster sustainable and equitable rural development processes.
Decentralization: At the core of ANEC’s model is the local farmer organization. Local organizations are small businesses with socio-political values and responsibilities. The local organizations are called Empresa Comercializadoras Campesina, or ECCs, which translates as Peasant Commercializing Enterprises. Each ECC is its own legal entity and must conform to Mexican business standards, paying taxes, keeping records, and so on. In addition, ECCs adhere to a set of democratic principles and practices required of ANEC members, which include meeting regularly, making decisions democratically and transparently, and being accountable to their membership.
Local organizations are included in second tier, regional organizations called integradoras. Regional organizations also commercialize the harvests of local member organizations. They have a general assembly and an advisory where the leadership from local organizations meet and discuss everything from annual price forecasts, potential government subsidies, and regional and national politics and policies. Regional organizations are also meant to be involved in state-level advocacy.
The regional organizations (there can be more than one per state, depending on the size of the state and concentration of member organizations) are federated into the national association, ANEC.
ANEC itself has a general assembly with representation from local and regional organizations with a president, an advisory board, an Executive Director, and a national staff that coordinates five different program areas, which are:
- Commercialization: This area monitors markets and price trends, gives farmers advice about contract negotiations between a buyer and the ECC, and helps negotiate national-level contracts to commercialize grain.
- Political Advocacy: This area is dedicated to advocating for public policies and programs to support members and advance a sustainable and just food system.
- Finance: This area provides micro-finance products including crop-insurance and credit and a savings-and-loans program. Trainings in financial literacy are also given to members.
- Organizational strengthening and support: This area supports members developing their capacity to run the business side of the ECCs, helping ensure that organizations are maintaining good records and being transparent about accounts.
- Production (ACCI/MICI): This area provides support for farmers transitioning towards ACCI/MICI through the development of infrastructure (like laboratories for soil testing) and the organization of trainings about agroecological science and practices.
These different service areas were developed as a response to identified needs. Initially, ANEC had only three service areas; commercialization, advocacy, and organizational strengthening and support. “When we first started in 1995, facing the effects of NAFTA and the dismantling of national markets, our primary objective was to help negotiate better prices for farmers by organizing them and leveraging production at scale for better contracts.” (Toño)
Similarly, ANEC’s forays into financial services, through Seguros ANEC and SofomANEC crop insurance and micro-credit funds1 were developed to alleviate member farmers’ difficulty accessing credit, and in response to generally ineffective and expensive crop-insurance programs. “Together with our members we realized that there were no decent options for credit and then no decent options for crop insurance and so we decided to get in the game” (José).
ACCI/MICI was developed for similar reasons. ANEC had already been participating in government programs that provided local organizations with agricultural extension services in the past but ANEC had never provided technical support for production in a systematized or centralized way.
ANEC works with groups of organized farmers who work and learn collectively and who rely on one another for support when taking on the rather risky endeavor of trying a new production practice. The introduction of new agricultural practices was bolstered by the strong, trusting relationships cultivated by ANEC’s staff and tecnicos with members as well as the access members had to other services including capacity building. Lourdes Rudiño, a Mexican journalist and researcher who first wrote about ANEC’s forays into productive innovation, has argued that the increase in yields ANEC realized were because the productive innovation was grounded in ANEC’s organizational model. ANEC’s integrative approach to rural development is distinctive in Mexico and “goes against the current of individualism that is promoted in the public programs implemented in the agricultural sector in Mexico” (Rudiño, 3, 2010).
The combination of a strong organizational structure and existing pathways for transmitting information and fostering dialogue is essential to ANEC’s success in developing and scaling-out the ACCI/MICI approach.
B. ANEC’s Principles and Values
a. Economic organization with a social impact and environmental responsibility
h. Justice, equity and solidarity
j. Being proactive, innovative and constructive
C. ANEC’S MISSION AND CODE OF GOOD GOVERNANCE PRACTICES
We work with devotion and stay committed to the mission, principles, values and organizational model of ANEC.
We are organized peasants who are committed to learning ANEC’s objectives, mission, vision, principles, values and organizational model, and we affirm our solidarity with them as well as our willingness to work diligently to fulfill the organization’s mandate while bearing in mind our organizational model.
We are organizations at the service of and for peasants who take part in them, and for the women and men of the Mexican countryside.
We are economic organizations with a solid commitment to social and environmental well-being, made up of peasants who mainly produce basic grains, and we organize to work on our problems, needs and initiatives in order to acquire greater economic and decision power. We are dedicated to improving equity and the quality of life of our members, their families, their communities and the rural sector.
We are autonomous, independent self-sufficiency and diverse organizations, and we govern ourselves according to democratic principles
We are organizations that are dedicated to and answer to our highest decision-making body, the General Assembly. We value and develop our autonomy and self-management abilities, and we do not depend on any external authority (e.g. political parties, peasant unions, governments, companies, legislators, etc.). We are diverse and respect the political, religious and sexual preferences of each member. We make collective and democratic decisions, through the General Assembly, Board of Directors sessions, and work meetings, in accordance with our interests and needs expressed in plans and programs, and employing methods, procedures and mechanisms that allow us to improve peasants’ governance in our organizations.
Our management and operational structures are at the service of the organization.
ANEC’s organizational model regards the General Assemblies comprised of members of each organization as the highest authority, and according to this model we work with a management structure made up of producers, and our own professional managerial and technical structure, which must strengthen members’ self-management skills, and operate in strict compliance with their established mandates, principles, and norms.
We work towards the development of local strengths and capabilities.
We are committed to developing local organizational, technical and technological capabilities, and to sustainable economic development. To this end, we will promote the exchange of experiences at the local, regional and national level, and we will provide annual training and education programs in each organization, with a focus on equity, to promote training for local leaders, administrative staff, organization members and the technical team. This training will also facilitate the operation, duties and obligations of members, governing bodies and the technical-managerial team.
We are committed to practicing sustainable and integrative agriculture that cares for nature and consumers
We strive to practice agriculture that safeguards soil, water and the environment and produces healthy food for consumers, combining peasants’ knowledge with scientific and technological knowledge. Our organization embraces the production chain comprehensively, from production to consumption, by including the by-products of members’ productive activity, and promoting the use and development of modern technologies while also being mindful of environmental sustainability and the integral development of communities and the environment.
We are inclusive and we organize ourselves with an equity approach.
As inclusive organizations, we promote our growth by admitting all producers who wish to organize, as well as new organizations, that commit to adhering to ANEC’s principles. This also entails eradicating inequalities by developing mechanisms that promote the active and equitable equal participation of women and young people in the governing bodies of our organizations, in decision-making, and in each and every one of our activities.
We practice and demand an honest, efficient and transparent administration in our organizations and we strictly comply with our accountability to organization members
The principles of democracy, justice and equality commit us and require us to conduct an honest, efficient and transparent administration in our organizations at both the individual and collective levels. Transparency regarding our accountability and access to consistent, accurate, sufficient and timely information of all organization activities is one of our most appreciated, fulfilled and mandatory practices.
We build and use standardized management methods and systems and commit ourselves to an annual comprehensive management audit.
All our organizational and resource management processes are carried out using specific systems and methods that ensure efficiency, democratic governance and transparency for all organizations and members. In order to achieve greater control of operational and administrative practices, we accept and promote the implementation of strategic plans, as well as a comprehensive audit of annual management as a basic procedure of self-regulation.
We mobilize to demand our rights and stand in solidarity with other fair causes, and to influence national and rural sector public policies.
In defending our principles, values and objectives and by building transformative citizenship, we commit ourselves to mobilize in a legal and peaceful manner in order to demand our rights and advocate for our demands and proposals, as well as stand in solidarity with other fair causes in Mexico and in other countries. We analyze and propose public policies that are favorable to the development and sustainability of peasants’ advocacy and the sustainability of the Mexican countryside, maintaining our independence and political autonomy from external agencies.
CODE OF MINIMAL GOOD PEASANTS’ GOVERNANCE PRACTICES
Operation of organizations’ governing bodies
Establish the General Assembly as the highest governing and decision-making body of the organization in the statutes and in the conscience of the members, as well as ensure it in practice, and that the main actions, programs, projects, management, credits will be approved by this authority. These decisions will determine the organization’s future direction and will incorporate the mission, principles and heritage of organization members.
Hold General Assemblies, at least one bimonthly, with member producers from local grassroots organizations, and with delegates for organizations comprised of legal entities, in accordance with annual calendars approved in the General Assembly and known to all.
At each General assembly, a memorandum of agreements must be drafted and recorded in the corresponding minutes book, ensuring proper follow-up and compliance of agreements by the Board of Directors and management.
In the integration of the Board of Directors or Administrative Board, women and youth must be elected and participate in at least 30% of positions to ensure and promote their representation and equal participation in decision-making. Likewise, External Directors will be included in ANEC’s national initiatives and those of organizations with larger-scale operations.
Ensure the attendance of the majority of members (more than 60%) in General Assemblies by means of prior announcements and effective campaigning.
Conduct at least one monthly session with the Board of Directors. Each director will have information about the duties, responsibilities and faculties of his / her function, and will sign an agreement committing to these prior to discharging his/her duties.
Transparency and accountability
The Board of Directors or Administrative Board must ensure effective communication with the entire organization and each of its members. At each assembly, it will present a complete, accurate and up-to-date report showing the financial position of the company, as well as the plans and activities it is carrying out and intends to carry out, and this report is to be reviewed and analyzed by members.
The Manager shall issue monthly financial and operational reports, which shall be reviewed by the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board and approved, where appropriate, by the General Assembly of Members.
All operations carried out in the organization must be submitted to a registration and accounting process that applies commonly accepted standards, procedures and systems. They will have updated and regularized their control systems and will use the instruments developed by ANEC, in order to standardize accounting and financial criteria.
The Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board or Commissioners will be responsible for promoting an annual internal and comprehensive management audit (administrative, accounting, fiscal and financial), whose results will be known to the Board of Directors or Administrative Board and the General Assembly.
The Board of Directors will be responsible for promoting a strategic five-year plan for the organization, and will annually evaluate improvements or setbacks to correct mistakes or negative attitudes in time. And for it, a General Assembly of Balance and Programming will be held to approve, where appropriate, the operational and financial report of the Board of Directors and of the Management, as well as to define and approve the operational program for the following year.
Building Local Skills and Training
As part of the strategic plan, a training plan will be defined each year, aimed at strengthening the capabilities of each and every one of the organization’s members, especially women and young people, and strengthening their respective roles as well as their respective projects: members, the administrative board, the managing director, and technicians by area.
 While guided by the principles and objectives of the national organization, ANEC’s credit fund, crop-insurance service, and savings and loans initiative are intended to operate independently and autonomously from ANEC.