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.

Source FORBES: Can The French Still Afford To Eat Their Own Food?

Beyond glyphosate: French vineyards shift away from controversial weedkiller

France’s wine industry can become “the first in the world without glyphosate”, President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday at the Paris Agriculture Fair. But is foregoing the controversial herbicide possible? FRANCE 24 spoke with vintners.

At France’s largest, if temporary, farm – the country’s annual agricultural fair, held at Porte de Versailles exhibition grounds on the southern rim of Paris – it was barely 10am on Monday and Xavier Martin was already enjoying a glass of red wine.

At a stand showcasing his wine from Irouléguy in the Basque country, the 58-year-old had just polished off a fried egg and a slice of grilled bacon. “Wine, I was born in it,” the fifth-generation winegrower says. A salon jury had just rewarded his 2017 Mignaberry rosé with a gold medal.

Martin, who gave up on synthetic herbicides 20 years ago, feels strongly about glyphosate. “We must keep our soils clean, just as we received them from our ancestors, to pass them on to our children,” the bearded vintner says.

“These grounds will outlive us. We must work to preserve them.” Continue reading “Beyond glyphosate: French vineyards shift away from controversial weedkiller”