Draft law on agriculture: what does the text presented to the Council of Ministers this Wednesday contain?

Draft law on agriculture: what does the text presented to the Council of Ministers this Wednesday contain?

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This is a long-awaited text. THE draft orientation law on agricultureplaced under the sign of “food sovereignty” and “renewal of generations », arrives this Wednesday in the Council of Ministers, for adoption hoped for in the summer. Reworked after the agricultural crisis to take into account certain demands of farmers, who denounce the red tape and are reluctant to comply with certain environmental standards, this text arrives at the end of a stormy political sequence.

After numerous meetings with the unions, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal had announced more than 400 million euros in emergency aide and opened a site on 62 then 67 “commitments”, placing agriculture “above everything”. That hadn’t been enough. Booed at the Agricultural Show, President Emmanuel Macron finally acceded to a strong demand from the majority union FNSEA, affirming the “major general interest” nature of agriculture. This is what the text will contain.

Protecting food sovereignty

This is the purpose of the first article of this new law, which places fishing and aquaculture at the same level. This notion of major general interest should “feed the reflection of the administrative judge”, indicated the office of the Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau. For example, in the event of a dispute surrounding an agricultural project contested in the name of nature protection.

According to this article 1, public policies must contribute “to the protection of France’s food sovereignty” – an expression adopted by the government and the FNSEA since the war in Ukraine. If the notion is defined as the “capacity to ensure its food supply”, the government insists: France will not fall back on satisfying its own needs but will maintain its “exporting vocation” (cereals, wines, dairy products, in particular) .

Attract new farmers

The bill aims to provide a framework for action to the agricultural world to meet two major challenges: attracting workers – it recalls that a third of farmers could retire within ten years, but does not however provide any quantified objective – and adapt production systems to climate change. Bringing together questions of training, measures on hedges or the status of herd protection dogs, it remains qualified by many as a catch-all.

The FNSEA regrets a lack of ambition on competitiveness and expects numerous amendments in Parliament. About the Peasant Confederationthe 3rd agricultural union heir to the anti-globalization struggles, it deplores a “diversion of meaning” of food sovereignty, according to it not linked to production capacity or the preservation of export markets, but to the freedom of a country to choose your food system.

A new diploma

The text, since its first versions, contains the creation of a new bac + 3 level diploma, an “agro bachelor”, and the establishment of a “France services agriculture” network – a single window or entry point for applicants for installation under the aegis of the chambers of agriculture. The bill also allows the creation of “agricultural land investment groups” or GFAI which will raise money from investors in order to buy land to rent it to new farmers.

The government had committed to granting a “presumption of emergency” in the event of litigation surrounding the construction of a water reserve for irrigation. Objective: to reduce procedural delays and “to clear the dispute in less than ten months”. This “presumption of emergency” will also concern livestock building projects, the building permits of which are regularly the subject of appeal by nature defense associations.

Adjust the sentences

The government wants to adapt the scale of penalties and replace criminal sanctions with administrative sanctions in certain cases of environmental damage. “We are not going to send a farmer to prison because he trimmed his hedge at the wrong time,” summarized Marc Fesneau, preferring ecological restoration obligations to “infamous” sentences.

The FNSEA estimated that the main obstacle to the planting of hedges was the administrative millefeuille, with “14 different regulations”. This “corpus” will be unified in a “single regulation”. The text reaffirms the ban on the destruction of a hedge while providing for conditions of exemption (replanting for example).

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