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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Following a year 2013 in the red,
it is not evident that 2014 will be a better year



Arnaud Carpon, journalist, Terre-net Média


Article published in Terre-net Média



With 2013 indicators in the red, it was a “black” year for agribusiness executives. And the long-term means and objectives of the “Responsibility Pact” are not providing rosier prospects for 2014.

Almost all economic indicators for agribusiness activities were negative for 2013: Sales for France’s second largest manufacturing industry after aerospace did increase in value by 0.6 percent to reach €160.5 billion, but production declined by 2.2 percent.

“2013 was an extremely difficult year,” stated Jean-Philippe Girard, President of the French Food Industry Association (ANIA), during the presentation of its 2013 “black” report. “Export-oriented businesses fared batter than those focusing on the domestic market.”

As an additional fly in the ointment, the agro-food trade balance also declined. While exports did increase by 1.4 percent in a single year, imports did not record similar results and declined by 3.9 percent. With a total of €8.466 billion, the trade balance dropped by €719 million, an 8.5 percent slump!

As far as jobs are concerned, the 316 business failures recorded last year––against about 220 in 2011––placed a heavy burden on the industry’s employment, which lost 4.824 jobs! “We are reporting approximately 100 business failures over the number recorded in a normal year,” points out the ANIA president.


ONLY INVESTMENT FORECASTS ARE SIGNALING GO

Following this “black” year, 2014 is expected to be “not as bad”, for want of anything better. “As of mid-April 2014, close to 1,000 jobs are threatened, just as at the same time last year,” worries Jean-Philippe Girard. One could assume the loss of 5,000 jobs by year’s end, especially in the meat-processing industry, which is the most affected by difficulties.

That said, the loss of jobs in the agro-food industry––although the numbers were high in 2013––is not new and does not even date back to the onset of the 2009 economic crisis, but shows a serious pattern since 2004.

The investment forecasts represent the only indicator that leads ANIA to say that 2014 might be better than 2013. Agribusiness management is planning investment increases by seven percent, while these past few months’ estimates were lower.


PRICE WAR AS THE MAJOR SOURCE OF DIFFICULTY

Yet food processors will only be truly optimistic on the condition that retailers terminate the price war they are supporting in the name of consumers’ purchasing power. “That is the only way we can be optimistic,” insisted the ANIA president. The Consumer Affairs Act and its scanty measures to give power back to agro-food leaders against retailers will not alter the situation. Maintaining or ending this price war is subject to the whims of the retailing sector.

As far as the “Responsibility Pact” is concerned, agribusinesses and cooperatives businesses are ready to commit to the plan. “Even before the Pact, our industry had committed to hire 90,000 new employees by 2017, to which we must add 150,000 young people in apprenticeship in our training programs.” But ANIA notes that the tax-cutting plan announced by the government is taking a while to appear. “Businesses cannot make plans for the next two or three years when their main concern is knowing how to pay their employees through the current year!”

ANIA regrets the absence of any Secretary of State in charge of Agr0-food in the new government to replace Guillaume Garot, the former Deputy Minister under Stéphane Le Foll, who is now alone to deal with agricultural and agro-food issues, in addition to his duties of government spokesman. “Stéphane Le Foll is very familiar with our issues,” reassures Jean-Philippe Girard. The ANIA will meet with the President and the Minister of Agriculture at the Elysée Palace on Tuesday, April 15.


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Paris, 15 December 2018