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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The competitive and “CAP-compatible” scenario for producing 42 million tonnes of wheat



Frédéric Hénin, Editor in Chief, Terre-net


Article published in Terre-net Média



The French forecasting agency for the agricultural and food sectors has set up a strategy so that France, the leading European producer of wheat, remains competitive vis-à-vis its partners in EU and world markets. The scenario “preferred” by members of the think tank created in 1995 at BASF’s initiative would compensate grain farmers for the drop in CAP subsidies from 2015.

The scenario “preferred” by the agency’s fifty experts is for France to produce at least 42 million tonnes (Mt) of wheat per year by 2022, compared to the current 35-37 Mt, the agency is overseen by BASF, the German leader in crop protection. This scenario, which would obviously involve a reasonable consumption of pesticides, would enable France to remain one of the major exporters of wheat and compensate its grain farmers for the drop in CAP subsidies in 2015 and improve competiveness with Germany.

In addition, the “preferred” scenario also involves environmentally intensive and economically efficient agriculture which is acceptable to the agency because it involves research and the generalizing of precision farming with the objective of reaching 9 cwt/ha more yield per year by 2022.

“At a rate of 2% annual productivity gain, that is more than 20% in ten years, or savings of 40 to 80 €/ha for mechanization costs of between 200 and 400 €/ha depending on the production systems”, say the think tank experts. The same goes for reducing inputs (energy and nitrogen) and new constraints due to climate change are inevitable, it is also research that will provide the means for preserving wheat yield potential thanks to a more efficient offer with more varieties.

But these efforts also require the mobilization of all members of society willing to recognize the role of genetic innovation.

The “preferred” scenario also implies a new approach to environmental regulations by entering into a logic of results, i.e. mobilizing resources to achieve environmental goals set by the government instead of constantly imposing new constraints. But this method can only be considered with a territorial approach to problems, not one that is arbitrary and disconnected from realities in the field. Land used for agriculture in protected areas would also be reduced (limited zoning), preserving the potential for grain production in France.


THREE SCENARIOS

In fact, the agency’s “preferred” scenario is one of three presented on 10th October in a discussion paper on “major prospective dynamics of competitiveness in the production of wheat”. The other two, the “baseline” scenario and the “worst-case” scenario, in addition to the “preferred” scenario described in this document are the result of a two year thought process carried out by the think tank created in 1995 at the initiative of BASF. Though discreet, they have nonetheless requested for the second time since their foundation, that their work be made public to demonstrate that the French grain industry and government are facing critical choices. According to the fifty experts from the agri-food industry and profession, these choices will determine the future of a sector of excellence and 7 billion euros in annual sales from exports.

“Grain is a good thing for France,” defends the agency. And the “preferred” scenario seems quite compatible with government policy guidelines provided that it gives itself the means. “Whereas the bill for the future of agriculture contains nothing on research and innovation”, deplores Rémi Haquin, farmer and chairman of the specialised council “Grain” at FranceAgrimer.

The “baseline” scenario involves “the greening of agricultural policies and the reinforcement of environmental constraints.” “The competitiveness of the wheat sector is declining with consequences from the choice of production on the quality of milling wheat”, argue the authors of the think tank study. France will not therefore escape the drop in yields which will reduce its production potential from 1 to 1.5 Mt


SOME REGIONS MIGHT STOP WHEAT PRODUCTION

The “worst-case” scenario would appear to be quite realistic “if environmental pressure dominates public opinion and research and innovation are rejected, which is neither good for productivity nor the ecological conversion”. This scenario would inevitably lead to a reduction in wheat production from 8.5 to 11 million tonnes by 2022 and a reduction of export potential of less than 10 Mt. Excessive environmental regulations could even lead to some regions stopping the production of quality milling wheat due to a lack of sufficient nitrogen spreading.

In fact, the inherent model in this third production scenario, the greenest of the three, is in fact the most vulnerable to climate change and rising energy costs. Also, resorting to farm-saved seed and research redirected towards hardiness at the expense of performance by 2022 would lead to yield losses of 3 to 4 cwt/ha in addition to those generated by the constraints imposed on the use of pesticides and fertilizers and by climate change. Paradoxically, mechanical weeding would generate an increase in mechanization costs exacerbated by a significant increase in energy prices. The doubling of energy prices could thus induce an increase in charges of 250 €/ha.


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Paris, 10 December 2018