From September 28 to October 4, a delegation of American farmers from all over the United States toured several regions of France aiming to discover traditional French products and specialties. This “Terroir Tour de France” was an opportunity for American and French producers to exchange and improve their farming techniques. Special attention was also paid to France’s concept called “protection of designated origin,” whereby special laws are in place to ensure that products billed as from a given region—Champagne, Bordeaux, etc.—really are.

During this visit, the dozen American farmers had an opportunity to taste traditional French food and drink, all of them under protection either through their geographical origin or through methods used for their production. Among those products were the Grenoble walnut, Bresse poultry, Arbois wine, Comté cheese, Champagne and Bouchot mussels.

Comté cheese ©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr

Comté cheese ©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr

For each product, the delegation was introduced to the organization responsible for its protection, production and commercialization. After each specialty has been recognized for its local or traditional added value, farmers’ organizations supervise the methods at each stage of production, such as the marketing process. The delegation also had the chance to visit the French National Institute for Designation of Origin (INAO), where they learned about the safeguarding process of traditional agricultural products. The INAO is responsible for evaluating the specificity of each product and overseeing the producers’ organizations.

On the last day of the exchange, head of the International Department at the French Ministry of Agriculture Philippe Vinçon hosted the delegation for a lunch, where the farmers had the chance to discuss future partnerships between French and American agriculture.
TerroirTourSite_Small_-4d48dThe American delegation at the French Ministry of Agriculture, where they met with Mr. Philippe Vinçon, Head of the International Department