Over the past 40 years, the number of corporate agricultural organizations in France has increased from 1% to 30% of the total number of farms. Farmers and ranchers get involved in a corporate organization of farms for many reasons: division of labor, optimization of production, protection of private wealth, integration of capital providers, and the proper bequeathing of the farm etc… The main advantages of a corporate organization of farms is to separate private and professional wealth. In the case of bankruptcy, the farmer is exposed to a risk equivalent to his or her contributions to the company.
Even if the corporate organizations of farms account for 30% of the total number of farms in France, they represents 64% of the standard gross production, more than half of the agricultural acres and 60% of the cattle population. Corporate organizations of farms are larger on average: 366 acres for GAEC farms (+23% since 2000), 237 acres for EARL farms (+13% since 2000) compared to 86 acres for individual farms (+12% since 2000).
The number of EARL farms is constantly increasing with a 40% growth between 2000 and 2010, whereas the number of GAEC farms has suffered a 10% loss since 2000. However, some changes at the EU level are expected to renew the attractiveness of the GAEC in the coming years.
Regarding division of labor in GAEC, 78% of the work is done by the farmers themselves, whereas in EARL, non family workers represent 42% of the work done in the year.
The different corporate organizations correspond to certain productions. For example, one out of two GAEC includes dairy production, solely or amongst other activities. 30% of the one-person EARLs are field crops farms. Furthermore, corporate organizations of farms are concentrated in certain regions. More than a quarter of the EARLs are located in the Paris region, Britany and Picardie, whereas GAECs are rooted in Franche-Comté (15% of the region’s farms), Lorraine (13%) and Pays de Loire (13%).