©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr

The French Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Travert, officially launched the workshops portion of the Estates General of Food (Etats Généraux de l’Alimentation: EGA), launched earlier this year and which will continue into the fall. Since July 20, a dozen ministries involved in this working group worked on three components of the EGA. Fourteen thematic workshops are planned, grouped in two larger projects and one transversal workshop:

  • Project One, which includes seven workshops, is dedicated to the creation and the sharing of value along the food chain. This one started at the end of August.
  • Project Two, which includes six workshops, will start work in the beginning of October on the theme of healthy, safe and sustainable food.
  • The Transversal Workshop, which starts in mid-September, will bring together all of the different tracks for future preparation (research, investments, technical assistance, etc.)

The two projects are linked. The success of Project One will set in place the conditions of Project Two, as farmers need to feel recognized in their work and economically secure in order to fully engage in the transformation of agricultural models made necessary by social, health and environmental issues.

The agenda for the workshops of Project One on the sharing of value has to be tight if the results are to be integrated in the negotiations of this fall between distributors and the agro-food industry.

Behind the more abstract concepts of the workshops like “sharing value” and “creating value” are more concrete issues that touch the daily lives of French people and farmers. For example, in workshop 1, dedicated to responding to consumers’ expectations, three large questions emerge from the outset: What are consumers’ expectations and how do you juggle these expectations with questions of price, quality, food safety or the proximity of places of production, for example?

The EGA also notably includes a public online consultation, allowing actors in the field to interact directly with the different proposals and elements of the ongoing EGA. The Ministry of Agriculture recently released statistics for this public consultation, and showed that the site has had almost 45,000 visits, with more than 6,000 contributions and 44,000 votes on various proposals. This public interaction is key to the success of the EGA.