The Order of Agricultural Merit, or “l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole”, is a French order that rewards those persons – both French and foreigners – who have made noteworthy contributions to French agriculture. Regulated by the France’s Ministry of Agriculture, this prestigious order consists of three levels or “grades” – Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer) and Commandeur (Commander) – and is bestowed upon professionals who promote and elevate French Agriculture through their work in any of the different agricultural sectors: Forestry, Fishery, Horticulture, the Agrifood industry, Ecology, etc… Recipients of all levels of the Mérite Agricole receive a diploma signed by the current minister of Agriculture as well as a medal that is traditionally conferred by a minister or agricultural counselor during an official decoration ceremony.

©Cheick.saidou/Min.Agri.Fr - Medal for Commanders of the Order

©Cheick.saidou/Min.Agri.Fr – Medal for Commanders of the Order

The Order traces its origins back to 1883, when it was founded by the then Minister of Agriculture, Jules Méline. Minister Méline served during a period of prodigious national wealth and was adamant on recognizing hardworking farmers for their seldom rewarded efforts: “The agricultural population is considerable: more than eighteen million French citizens live off of this industry that contributes greatly to the development of our public wealth.” He felt that the quota for the Legion of Honor was insufficiently high to adequately compensate the diverse excellence in French agriculture, and thus took it upon himself to create a new one for that express purpose.

Today, 130 years later, the honor of the Mérite agricole thrives on an international scale. In the United States alone there are dozens of recipients from all ranks, spanning the whole of the continent. In fact, l’Association des membres de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole (AMOMA), or the Order of Agricultural Merit Member’s Association, has just recently formed its American branch this past year. The goal of the American contingent of AMOMA is to unite members of all nationalities living in the United States to foster a sense of solidarity and to promote the wonderful diversity and importance of Agriculture. Participants of the association can opt into a communication network and aim to convene at least once a year. The original French contingent of AMOMA also hosts an annual congress to which all members are invited. This year’s gathering will be held in Bordeaux from June 5th to the 7th.

For those wishing to learn more about the details of the American Order of Agricultural Merit Member’s Association or for members who would like to join, please contact the group’s president, Mr. Eric Vogt at eric.vogt@eprovenance.com.