The organic flavour of France

The View from France: Stéphane Le Foll, the French Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, recently outlined the framework for the 2017 Organic Ambition plan which is designed to double the surface area dedicated to producing organic food in France, as well as significantly increasing French consumption of these products.

The new plan is fully in line with France’s existing agri-environmental project named “Agriculture: Producing Differently ” and is one of the most important agro-ecological measures taken by the French Government to make producers, distributors, and citizens work together.

With over 36,700 organic operators (producers, processors, distributors), more than 1 million hectares committed to organic production (3.8 per cent of arable agricultural land) and a market of 4.1 billion euros in 2012, French organic farming is a strong growth sector that meets the expectations of more and more French “consum’actors” seeking to balance a healthy and quality diet with respect for the environment.

The plan will focus on six strategic objectives:

1. Develop organic production. An incentive system will encourage farmers to convert and maintain their fields under organic management.

2. Restructure the sector and develop arable and oilseed crops to secure protein independence for animal feed and food in 2017. This initiative will be financed annually with €4m from the “Organic Future Fund“.

3. Increase consumption and win market share.  By 2017, public restaurants and catering companies will be required to use at least 20 per cent organic ingredients.

4. Encourage research and development.

5. Educate farmers and processors. Continuing education programs will be launched for farmers.

6. Adapt regulations. The organic model will be taken into greater account in regulations.

Between 2007 and 2012, the land surface used for organic cultivation had already doubled.  Given the extent of the new support program, it is very likely that France will achieve its objectives.

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By Bernadette Byrne, Paris Office, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board

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