©Xavier Remongin/Min.Agri.Fr.

Promoting the principles of agroecology is one of the leading goals of the French Ministry of Agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll, presented last December the advancements made in 2016 and perspectives for the New Year 2017 in matters of soil health, food supply and support for farmers in agroecology practices.

The first panorama of indicators that allow to measure soil health was presented, allowing for better knowledge about soils and tools that can be used to measure changes. This constitutes an important tool for productivity, resilience against hazards and mitigating the effects of climate change.

The role and responsibility of retailers, food processors and the commercial food services industry, through the quality of their supply of agricultural products, was also emphasized. The Ministry of Agriculture will put in place in April of this year, a new tool to recognize voluntary steps taken that increase the value of supplies coming from agroecological practices in order to provide benefits to farmers who engage themselves in agroecology.

Additionally, in order to support farmers in changing their practices, a new version of the information technology tool for agricultural development, the agroecological diagnostic tool, came online in December. This new version of the tool will notably allow farmers to compare their economic, environmental, and social performance with their farming peers in their group. It also includes new functions for agricultural advisors, allowing for its use in collective action. Since launching in December of 2015, more than 4,500 farmers have signed up to use this diagnostic tool.

Finally, the Ministry announced the creation of the National Reference Center for animal welfare, which will be managed by INRA, the French Institute of Agronomic Research, and meets the needs of the better sharing of information, scientific progress and innovation, essential challenges for the development of animal welfare practices.