ANALYSIS - Fresh moves are being made in France to support the livestock and agriculture sectors that have been rocked by low prices and poor market conditions.
Last month, the agriculture minister Stéphan Le Foll called in the Ombudsman for Agricultural Trade Relations to gather evidence from the processing and distribution industry after concerns were raised over prices paid to livestock and dairy farmers.
The ombudsman’s findings are due to be reported later this month.
The agriculture minister also called on the agrifood chain to support farming along the chain at a time when he said the future of French pig, beef and dairy cattle breeding was being put under pressure by the “unfavourable economic environment”.
However, a new report has also been issued setting out a series of measures calling for new investment in the livestock and agriculture sectors and outlining the way forward to achieve a sustainable and environmentally friendly industry up to 2025.
The report “Investir dans les filières agricoles et agroalimentaires” (Investing in agriculture and agri-food sectors), which was commissioned by Mr Le Foll last year has identified the areas where there is a need to ensure investment in modernisation and innovation, areas to improve competitiveness through evolution, the development of production methods, and developments in processing and marketing along the entire food chain.
“These investments are intended to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, by taking into account the expectations of society and the development of new markets, and also the necessary ecological transition,” Mr Le Foll says in the report.
“Since the beginning of my mandate, I have made the transition to an efficient agriculture to both economically, environmentally and socially a priority as part of the agroecological project.
“This requires research and innovations but also disseminating practical and significant effort in investment.”
The report looks at areas such as tax credits for competitiveness and jobs and outlines a plan to adapt farms to achieve their utmost competitiveness.
It outlines measure for investment in marketing and processing, investment in agri-environmental and climate projects, help to reduce methane emissions, heat and biomass projects and projects on waste.
Mr Le Foll has also outlined four areas where he says that government intervention will give concrete help to the agriculture and livestock sectors to make the more competitive.
He said there are plans to reduce contributions and taxes on companies by €41 billion by 20176 that will have a major impact on the agriculture and food sectors.
By 2017 there will be €650 million more in relief for agricultural production compared to 2012 and more than €1.1 billion extra for agricultural cooperatives in the processing and agribusiness.
The Future Investment Programme (PIA) has been strengthened to support investment and business innovation and €12 has been allocated to the second hard of the PIA.
Mr Le Foll said in the report that for the first time from this year money will be put into dedicated envelopes to support investment and innovation with €120 million entrusted to FranceAgriMer and €20 million managed by France BPI.
He said that farmers are also able to recover to recover some of the investment in machinery such as tractors and projects for manure treatment in the same way industrial organisations can recover corporation tax.
The fourth area, where government intervention is assisting the agricultural sector is through the Common Agricultural Policy with the regions being strengthened in their support of the Plan for Competitiveness and Adaptation of Operations. At least €200 million a year will be available between 2015 and 2020.
The report outlines the ways that these funds can be accessed and it shows the areas in French agriculture and livestock where the money can be used.
In meetings last week, Mr Le Foll also established a fund for the sector through a partnership between the European Investment Bank, SIAGI, France BPI, and the Association of Regions of France (ARF).
The fund will set up a system to help farmers access finance and ease their cash flow when investing.
The full report can be read here.