A lot of consumers think that more respect to the environment makes better food. For example 24% of the French people think the government should promote products that protect the environment. Following this demand and the need to protect our natural resources, ambitious policies were drawn and the organic production sector has been growing really fast those past few years.

PRESERVING THE ENVIRONNMENT: AN URBAN, RURAL, CONSUMER AND PRODUCER CONCERN

Environment is everyone’s concern. In France, producers as well as consumers, rural as well as urban have paid more and more attention to the link between their food and the environment for the last few years.

From the consumer point of view, some major trends are a marker for this rising concern. To consume local products is a major one. By reducing transportation and to consume local products has a great environmental impact. In France a new way to buy fruits and vegetables has been growing really fast these last years, especially in urban areas, which strengthens the relationship between the producers and the consumers: the AMAP (Association to Preserve a Peasant Agriculture). A producer makes an agreement with consumers; they will buy every week a basket of fruits and vegetables (also meat and eggs) at a fixed price with what the producer has to offer that week. The products are often organic. This allows the producer to have no margin costs because no retailer is involved in the transaction and to have stable revenue. As for the consumer, it is a great way to have seasonal products, to discover new ones and of course to be sure that the food is local. An important point to take in consideration is the importance of those practices in urban areas. Even if they live in cities, people care about the environment. Another of the major trends in urban areas is the development of community gardens. Producing its own food is a great way to understand how it is made, to educate, to develop a community spirit and of course to eat! More and more urban people become aware of their impact when they eat and the development of agro and ecotourism shows the importance of the raising concern of urban consumers.

© Min.Agri.Fr

© Min.Agri.Fr

Producers pay more and more attention to the environment. The way to produce has considerably changed in the last few years. The environmental concern is now on everyone mind. Public policies and producers’ awareness have led to agriculture more respectful towards the environment. Public actors have helped towards this transition by creating an environmental certification in May 2011. Three levels exist with the highest “high environmental value” that certifies that the producer respects some requirements especially towards biodiversity, water management, fertilizer use.

The development of organic farming in recent years is a crystallization of both the consumer demand and the French producer. Organic farming is under strict mandatory specifications at national and European levels. The main specification is that there be no use of non-natural plant protection product or fertilizers and different strict regulations for the different products. The general idea is to promote the rotation of different crops, use different agricultural techniques, the work of soil to replace chemical products and to enhance the complementarity between the different sites of farms.

This general will to achieve a better respect for the environment in the food production is heavily supported by public policies.

AN AMBITIOUS POLICY FOR A BETTER FUTURE

In 2007, a new way to make policies was created on the subject of the environment. The ‘Grenelle Environnement Forum’ gathered national and local government, non-governmental organizations, farmer’s unions and industry professionals to think together and come up with ideas for new policies. From this forum, a plan with 20 priorities was issued involving the broadest consensus among participants. Most of the policies presented below are drawn from this action plan Mission: Farmlands 2020

Agriculture now has two major challenges: to produce enough to meet the demand of 9 billion people by 2050 and at the same time to preserve natural resources and biodiversity. Sustainable agriculture is therefore an urgent need. ‘Mission Farmlands 2020’ defines the possible ways forward to a reinvented agriculture that reconciles economic performance with ecological effectiveness. Agriculture and forestry must address five key challenges if they are to make good use of natural resources: making better use of ever scarcer water, helping restore water to a satisfactory ecological condition, stewarding biodiversity and landscape, protecting soils, controlling energy use more effectively and mitigating global warming. To meet those challenges ‘Mission Farmlands 2020’ issued five ways forward reducing the use and impact of plant protection products, involving all farms in sustainable development, developing the potential of organic farming, putting agronomy back at the heart of agriculture, devising practices fitted to each area’s specific needs. Those main challenges and ways forward will be addressed by local and national initiatives.

©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr

©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr

Ecophyto 2018: 50% reduction in the use of pesticides!

The plan (with an estimated budget of more than 200 million euros over the period 2009-2011) reflects France’s commitment to reduce the use of pesticides by 50% by 2018. Organized around eight priorities, the ‘Ecophyto 2018’ plan aims to help farmers have better environmental production practices. The eight axes are:

  • To monitor the progress made on reducing the use of pesticides
  • To compile the known means allowing to reduce the use of pesticides by mobilizing all the actors of research and development
  • To find new technical itineraries and cultural systems which use few pesticides
  • To teach reduction and safety of the use of pesticides
  • To reinforce the monitoring networks on bio-aggressor and non-intentional effects of the use of pesticides
  • To take into account the specificity of the overseas territories
  • To reduce the use of plant protection products in non-agricultural area
  • To organize the national monitoring of the plan and its regional application as well as to communicate on the plant protection products

Agriculture Energy 2030

Energy in agriculture is too often seen as a secondary or cyclical issue. In reality, it is an issue that is of key importance for the future due to its economic consequences for farmers, its links with environmental and climate issues and its influence on the organization of agricultural supply chains and the development of regions. Based on the work of a group of around forty experts and led by the Centre for Studies and Strategic Foresight (CEP) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural Affairs and Spatial Planning, this Agriculture Energy 2030 prospective study warns against“short-termism”, informing the actors concerned of the challenges and the opportunities raised by the energy issue in agriculture. Following a comprehensive diagnostic analysis of current issues, this overview presents four very different, quantified scenarios for future developments between now and 2030 and defines strategic focuses to guide public action. Here are some examples of the conclusions reached: Preference for local supply of protein for animal feed would be an advantageous strategy, agricultural machinery constitutes a major area for fuel savings and a lever for change that could be easily used, Reduction of the energy consumption of buildings is a necessity…