On May 31, the French Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Stéphane Le Foll, launched the Organic Ambition 2017 Program which is intended to restructure the French organic farming sector. Among other goals, the program aims to double the land surface used for organic cultivation and boost the consumption of organic products.
The “Ambition Bio 2017” program is one of the most agro-ecological measures taken by the French Government to make producers, distributors, and citizens work together.
Six main goals have been defined:
- To develop organic production. An incentive system will encourage farmers to keep their fields under organic management. This goal will be mainly financed by the European Common Policy which will dedicate 160 million euros to the organic farming sector between 2014 and 2020.
- Restructuring the sector. Two priorities have been outlined, the first of which is to develop crops and particularly oil and protein seeds (such as canola, sunflower, and soy) to reach national food independence on feed proteins. Secondly, to better organize the sector, greater data on prices of production and distribution is needed. For that purpose, national and regional observatories will be strengthened and coordinated. A special fund dedicated to organic farming, “Avenir Bio,” will be managed by the French Organic Agency and will receive an extra 1 million euros each year, in addition to the 3 million it already receives annually. The fund “Avenir Bio” informs consumers, coordinates professionals, and identifies necessary changes to structure the sector and finance projects.
- To develop organic consumption and to get more market shares. By 2017, public restaurants and catering companies will be required to use at least 20% organic ingredients. Numerous actions are also foreseen to encourage consumers to choose organic products: advertisements, school-organized visits to organic farms, and community garden projects.
- To encourage research and development.
- To adapt regulation. The organic model will be taken into greater account in regulations. For that purpose, France is strongly committed to the reformation process of European regulations for the organic sector.
To educate farmers and processors. Continuing education programs will be launched for farmers, and specific courses and training periods that already exist in agricultural schools will be developed and expanded.
The French organic agriculture is a dynamic sector:
- The organic sector employs more than 36,700 people (producers, processors, distributors, etc.)
- More than 2.47 million hectares are used for organic farming – 3.8% of the French Utilized Agricultural Area.
- The organic market represented 4.1 billion euros in 2012.