A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
Terre-net
  Editorial  
 

No earth-shattering solutions but a process is underway



Frédéric Hénin, Editor-in-Chief, Terre-net


Article published in Terre-net Média



The contribution of agriculture in France’s economic recovery requires strong commitments from the Ministries of the Employment, the Ecology, Agriculture and Food. This is the meaning given to the general forum organized by the French Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA) with the involvement of the Young Farmers’ Organization (JA), the Permanent Assembly of Chambers of Agriculture (APCA), the National Confederation of Reciprocity, Cooperation and Agricultural Credit (CNMCCA) and Coop de France.

Within a few weeks, the FNSEA was able to enlist four ministers to address the general forum on agriculture that was held on February 21, 2014, and was jointly sponsored by the JA, Coop de France, the APCA and the CNMCCA.

The day before the inauguration of the Paris International Agricultural Show by French President François Hollande, FNSEA President Xavier Beulin hoped to draw public awareness on the fact that agriculture’s involvement in the economic recovery is a cross-disciplinary field. It involves the Ministries of the Employment, the Ecology, Food and Agriculture. This is the first conclusion drawn from the pleas expressed by the FNSEA and JA networks.

The challenges to be met quite exceed the sole issues of the legislation on the future of agriculture, as Xavier Beulin had pointed out when he announced this general forum (second conclusion). Lastly, the interventions during the forum highlighted the work to be done by France “to produce more and better” and regain its position as the world’s second largest agricultural exporter.

The various statements made by each minister addressing the forum suit the FNSEA, but the most important step includes above all the commitments to be fulfilled in the coming months. Regarding the “responsibility pact”, to which the farming profession has been committed for over a year says the FNSEA––long before by the French President announced it––now is the time for action. While Xavier Beulin recognizes that regaining competitiveness will take time, he emphasized that some issues to be resolved can be traced to some decisions made over 20 years ago, especially regarding environmental issues.


REMOVING THE BOTTLENECKS TO PRODUCTION

Participants to the three round tables provided participants with the opportunity to present the attending ministers with the demands gathered from membership consultations. Each minister then spoke on what his contribution could be to remove the bottlenecks to production, which victimize farmers. “At a time when global agricultural production grows by two percent each year, French agricultural production declines by one percent, while its agricultural potential is the largest in the European Union,” said Xavier Beulin.

In the end, there was no earth-shattering solution. As far employment is concerned, the solutions to reduce labor costs are both European (establishing a minimum wage in each nation and limiting personnel outpostings) and national (simplifying employers’ administrative procedures and easing social benefits for lower wages). Since cooperative businesses will not benefit from the French tax credit for competitiveness and jobs (the CICE), Stéphane Le Foll agreed that the “responsibility pact” will translate into reduced labor costs as a priority. He did not, however, endorse Xavier Beulin’s demand to test the elimination of social charges paid by farmers employing workers and by cooperative businesses before extending it to other businesses by 2017.

Some topics of current interest are showing that the road to unshackle production forces is still a hazardous one.

The FNSEA is pleased by the professional training legislation that includes employers’ representatives in all professional bodies based on national union audience. Yet, the legislation regarding apprenticeships and internships will deter many employers to hire such workforce, due to the new rules that must complied with.

Borrowing Xavier Beulin’s terms “To restart France’s farming”, French Minister for the Food Industry Guillaume Garot is proposing a three-way contractual arrangement that associates “producers, processors and distributors” for all products. “This is the key to success, pulling through collectively and gaining competitiveness,” stated the minister.


GRASPING THE OPPORTUNITIES TOO OFTEN MISSED BY FRANCE

As far as investment is concerned, the Minister for Food Industries is gratified that a total of 520 projects were tallied and assured that the best ones will get find the required financing from the French Public Investment Bank (BPI) and others. Lastly, export growth will be based on sectorial crops to grasp the opportunities too often missed by France.

The government’s “commitment to exceptional simplification” was dominant during this general forum. For Philippe Vasseur, President of the APCA, the bureaucracy accounts for one percent of GDP every year. All professionals are waiting for swift measures. Today, only 30 among the 79 APCA’s propositions presented to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault have been accepted.

The participants to the third round table brought forward the following solution: “Simplification ordinances to cut down administrative delays.” Also mentioned was a neutral environmental taxation, which does not impact competitiveness of farming. This will be the case of the carbon tax––the climate energy contribution or CEC––for agriculture during the next three years that was reiterated by the Agriculture Minister. It is also the commitment regarding the eco-tax made by Philippe Mangin, President of Coop de France, and Stéphane Le Foll is leaning in this direction.

Philippe Martin, the Minister for the Ecology, stated in his address that the ecology “must not be opposed to both progress and agriculture,” and this was well received. With the elimination of regulatory “transpositions” by the European Commission and Brussels, the Minister of Agriculture stated “his firm intent to shake things up” in order to implement the nitrate directive; In no way can it lead to removing hundreds of thousands of acres from crop production. Farmers were also reassured by the resolve to give them more freedom to maintain ditches and waterways.

The participants as well as the Minister of Agriculture did not omitted the development of research from the general forum. For Xavier Beulin, this is the best option to quickly regain competitiveness gains.


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Paris, 11 December 2018