Can The French Still Afford To Eat Their Own Food?

Aside from wine sales, the French agricultural sector is struggling to compete with cheaper, more intensively-farmed goods from overseas—are French people finding it difficult to buy French food?

France is incredibly protective of its agricultural sector—it has been the sticking point between France and the U.S. in the negotiation of their new trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  President Donald Trump has been threatening to increase tariffs on French food as a result of France not agreeing to include the agricultural sector in the trading agreements (France wants only non-auto “industrial goods” included and specifically not meat, fruit or wine).

Part of the problem is that France is resistant to allowing food to be mass-produced or intensively farmed; it wants to preserve the traditional ways of farming, of which it is proud. This means though, that food is much cheaper when it is produced by farmers in other European countries who don’t adhere to as strict agricultural standards as the French.

Christiane Lambert, chairwoman of the French Farmers’ Union reported in The Times, that President Emmanuel Macron’s approach to agriculture was pricing French food out of the market. “He told us to go upmarket but in the first six months of this year we imported a lot more poultry from Poland and Germany because it is cheaper,” she said. It has come to the point when French people cannot afford to buy their own food.

The deficit to the French economy is about €300 million, but many believe it’s a worrying sign and a marker of the health of the agricultural sector in general—even French cheese is suffering as consumers are increasingly turning to cheese from Ireland or the Netherlands (the growth appears to be in more “industrially-produced” cheeses for pizza toppings).

The only part of the food and drinks sector which is buoyant is the alcohol industry, where sales of wine and cognac are still far outselling imports, notably due to a huge increase of sales in the U.S and China of French wine. The French government reported in May that this success might be masking a more dire warning for the French agricultural sector in general.

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On the Agenda: Everything that’s happening in France this week

Here’s a look at the big news and cultural events that will take place in France this week.

Monday May 27th 

Monday marks the beginning of three days of industrial action for the public sector, with seven trade unions calling on public sector workers to mobilise from Monday to Wednesday in opposition to the controversial government reforms.

However this week’s action will not include strikes but instead will focus on debates, press conferences, gatherings and meetings with elected officials.
The government is planning public sector reforms which would lead to the greater use of contract workers for some state services and a cut of 120,000 jobs by 2022 out of 5.6 million. [ . . . ]

Continue at: On the Agenda: Everything that’s happening in France this week

The Thing About France: A New Podcast from the French Embassy

For the first time ever, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy will release a bi-weekly podcast, The Thing About France, in which Cultural Counselor to the United States, Bénédicte de Montlaur, interviews distinguished American cultural figures with notable connections to France about their experiences in both countries. 

As part of the Cultural Services’ mission to facilitate exchange between the United States and France, The Thing About France podcast explores the relationships between French and American artists and institutions, and the long, complex cultural and political relationship between the two countries. Guests like musician Dee Dee Bridgewater, writer David Sedaris, journalist Liesl Schillinger, Whitney Museum director Adam Weinberg, and novelist Claire Messud will discuss everything from the politics of race to the funding of cultural institutions, and the challenges and benefits of living and working in another culture and language. Guests also give insider tips on their favorite spots in France.

The podcast allows guests to speak candidly, sharing personal anecdotes and opinions on the interplay between our two countries. By hearing the personal stories of artists, filmmakers, authors, and other cultural figures, listeners will discover how people in France and the United States influence each other in today’s world.

Tune in every other Wednesday to hear new, compelling stories about people who have lived and worked in both French and American cultures. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts to stay up to date on the newest releases, and check out our website, www.thethingaboutfrance.com, for more information.

Source: The Thing About France: A New Podcast from the French Embassy

The Thing About France is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud, and at www.thethingaboutfrance.com.

THE THING ABOUT FRANCE Guest David Sedaris

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