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.
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Agricultural deindustrialization:
Are we going to respond, doggone it!



by Pierre Boiteau, Director of Publications


Article published in Terre-net Magazine



Following the surrender our manufacturing operations, do we also want to lose our agricultural activities? Without spreading rampant doom and gloom, let’s be realistic: Livestock farming is still on red alert. Agricultural deindustrialization is a fact. And the International Livestock Trade Fair (SPACE)––the agricultural event of the fall––was a good opportunity to reiterate this.


ALARMING NUMBERS

France imports 44 percent of the chickens consumed in the country, against eight percent in 1990. And pig production is down by two million compared to 2010. The number of bovine animals declined by 20 percent in the past twenty years, and by 31 percent for sheep. Our country does not meet its dairy quota, and milk prices are lower than the 2010 levels while food prices rose by 37 percent! For the past ten years, the number of French dairy farms declined by 38 percent, to a total of 72,328 in 2011.

It is not clear to continue working when one does not live decently on one’s wages. Since cattle raisers are not paid fair wages, are agri-businesses and retailers aware that they are themselves doomed? Everyone is learning––or is bound to learn too late––that animal farming and processing can be relocated. The whole industry is impacted. Slaughterhouses keep closing down. Job eliminations and agri-business plant closings are continuing, with consequences on employment, on the economy and the local life.


WE LET OURSELVES BE SIDETRACKED!

Our lands, our climate, our know-how and our traditions, which determine the quality of our agriculture, are not preventing us to become fragile. Are we going to let this center of excellence get away from us, just like the textile or steel industries? For a long time, they were also committed to the actual quality of French products.

But over the long run, excellence is not enough. Quite the contrary, since we force ourselves to devise constraints, which cause social, fiscal and environmental distortions that heavily penalize us! We are scuttling our very own strengths. We run the risk of weakening an economic sector that could become an increasing large exporter and a driver of economic activity for France. Must we import more food? The so-often assailed deindustrialization process is continuing, and livestock farming is paying the price. There comes a time when, just as coal, textile, naval shipyards and steel, backtracking is no longer an option.


TAKING ACTION

One after the other, the unions are condemning the danger that threatens livestock farming. And every time––or almost every time––the political and economic powers listen. They regularly show their willingness to improve the situation.

But what has really changed since the milk strike? Not much, since the numbers are getting worse (see above figures).

Is there anybody to call the shots? Are policy-makers and economists going to wake up and turn words into concrete deeds? Are farmers going to able to form the required unity? Let’s hope so, but soon it will be too late. The relocation process will have done its damage. Our livestock farmers and our slaughtering and processing firms will not magically return. And those who are complaining about deindustrialization today will say the same thing about our lost farms and know-how tomorrow.


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Paris, 18 December 2018