© Cheick Saidou /French Ministry of Agriculture

The Directorate General for Food (DGAL), the agency in the French Ministry of Agriculture in charge of food safety and quality, animal and plant health, as well as animal welfare, released its annual report highlighting key initiatives, facts and figures from 2016.

The DGAL is preparing for the future with an agricultural system that is more resilient and more profitable for producers, and for a food system that is safer and higher quality. Here are some of the major initiatives from the past year.

Ecoantibio is the plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine, with a particular focus on antibiotics of critical importance. The use of veterinary antibiotics decreased 20% from 2012 to 2015, including a 22% reduction in the last two years. These good results are thanks to the mobilization and partnership of actors at all levels, in particular veterinarians, farmers, laboratories and the public.
Animal welfare strategy

Changes in animal production and territories as well as scientific progress explain why more and more citizens are asking that animal welfare be better taken into account. To meet this demand, France has launched a national animal welfare strategy that includes several priority actions. Some of these include sharing knowledge and promoting innovation through the creation of a national reference center for animal welfare, strengthening the demand that animals be well treated before slaughter, fighting against pet abuse, and better informing the public of advances in the field.

Ecophyto II
Ecophyto II is the plan to reduce the use of phytopharmaceutical products (pesticides) in agriculture by 50% in 2025. In 2016, several actions were taken to meet this goal, including increasing targeted funds by 30 million euros per year that can be used to invest in material and education for reducing phytopharmaceutical products. A decrease in sales of phytopharmaceutical products of around 3% took place between 2014 and 2015, the DGAL found. Additionally, funding was increased for research on biocontrol methods and new forms of agricultural equipment.

National Program for Food
The objective of this initiative is to make the food model of France a strength for the future. The plan is based on several broad themes, including social justice (allowing all to have access to high quality food in sufficient quantities, regardless of socio-economic background), education (teaching children from a young age about the importance of eating well), and fighting food waste. A second version of the National Pact Against Food Waste was published, allowing for the implementation of a new governance structure and new commitments from the government.

For more information, watch this video (in English) about the DGAL here: DGAL 2016 Activity Report