The measures put to a referendum vote were a ban on the use of synthetic pesticides in farming as well as their use in public green spaces, along with a ban on imported foodstuffs produced using such pesticides, coupled with a proposal seeking to limit government subsidies to farmers who used antibiotics to treat sick animals, and did not rely on imported feed.
A majority of both voters and cantons would have been needed to back the reforms but the two proposals failed to deliver, with 61% of voters and 25 out of a total of 26 cantons rejecting them.
Urs Schneider's, deputy director of Swiss farmers’ federation, told Swiss public television, SRF, that “objective arguments” had triumphed over emotional ones.
That farming group had argued that the measures proposed would have had serious consequences for local farming families, but also for domestic processing and consumers. “Domestic production would decrease, imports would increase in return, food waste would increase, the prices for local food - or food in general - would increase massively.”
In the run-up to the vote, agrochemical giants, Syngenta and Bayer, had been campaigning hard to encourage a No vote, while the Swiss government was also urging the public to reject both proposals.
The Swiss farming organization, in a bid to counter the proposal concerning imported feed, recently released figures highlighting how 84% of the feed used by the Swiss livestock sector is indigenous.
“Around 1.3m tons of the 8m tons of feed required are imported. Around 80% of feed imports come from the EU, mainly from Germany and France. Swiss agriculture has been relying on European soy for a long time.”