Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

French Agriculture Post-war ‘Revolution’

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "French Agriculture Post-war ‘Revolution’"— Presentation transcript:

1 French Agriculture 1980-2005 Post-war ‘Revolution’
Edith Cresson and the Unions The CAP and its effects Protests and Crises Productivism v ruralism Today I’m going to talk about the key developments in French agriculture in the last twenty years, and discuss some of the effects of these developments on the fabric of French society. French agriculture is unique in Europe for a number of reasons. Firstly, since 1981, France has been the second largest agribusiness exporter in the world after the US. The export success of French agricultural products justifies the famous declaration made in 1977 by President Valery Giscard d’Estaing that ‘L’agriculture doit etre notre petrole’ (cf in direct response to oil crisis) It is indeed the country’s ‘green oil’ (petrole vert), but this status has come under increasing pressure in recent years. The other unique aspect of French agriculture, and one that sets it apart from British agriculture, for example, is the diversity of its terrain, techniques and products. There is a world of difference between an intensive pig farm in Brittany and a small-scale goat’s cheese producer in a mountaineous region. There are as many tensions between different groups of farmers as there are between farmers and other sectors of the community in France. It follows that any discussion of ‘agriculture’ in France must attempt to take this diversity into account.

2 Agriculture 1946-1981 Post-war Revolution: Tractors: 1946 44,000
,000 The JAC (Jeunesse Agricole Chrétienne), CNJA (Centre national des jeunes agriculteurs) and Michel Debatisse Self-help; Cooperation; Productivity Before World War II, while a few estates in the north were large and up to date, the rest of the country was a mass of archaic smallholdings, sunk in lethargy and a kind of fatalism. Paysantisme was a way of life. The laws of equal inheritance, dating from Napoleon and earlier, were a major cause of the absurdly small size of farms. And farmers were protected by high tariff barriers, adding to the stagnation. The first ‘revolution’ was that of the tractors. Numbers shot up and French agriculture began to catch up with other European farming nations in terms of mechanised farming. This had a resulting impact on the numbers of labourers employed – a reduction from 600,000 in 1955 to 115,000 in Other revolutions happened in terms of chemicals – fertilizers, pesticides – and biology – new breeds of cattle, vegetables etc. introduced. All of this aimed to make farming more efficient and effective. The Revolution that began post-war and took hold in the 60s was driven not only by the State, but also by a new breed of young, medium-sized farmers. Nearly all the young radical leaders [in the late 1950s] came from the JAC (Jeunesse Agricole Chrétienne). The danger and responsibility of their wartime activities gave them an early maturity and seriousness. Some, deported to Germany, saw how small farms could be run on modern lines. Their accent was on learning economics, self-help and sharing of labour – new and amazing in the peasant world. Local groups set about studying accountancy and new farming techniques. [But]… on most farms the way was blocked by fathers who would have nothing of the new methods. […] Under their forceful and visionary young leader, Michel Debatisse, son of a small Auvergnat hill-farmer, they began their assault. The main union, FNSEA (Fédération Nationale des Syndicats des Exploitants Agricoles) was in the hands of the older rich farmers in the north, but in 1957 the Debatisse faction managed to take over key posts in its moribund junior section, the Centre National des Jeunes Agriculteurs (CNJA) and began to use it as a militant pressure group.

3 Agriculture 1960s protests: ‘L’agriculture de papa est morte’ 1960s Pisani laws De Gaulle, the FNSEA (Fédération nationale des syndicats d’exploitants agricoles) and ‘co-gestion’ Cooperatives and ‘remembrement’ In western Brittany, the young farmers’ rising irritation with the slowness with which reforms were happening reached flashpoint in March 1961, when a seasonal glut knocked the bottom out of the potato and vegetable markets. At Pont-l’Abbé, farmers set fire to ballot boxes in local elections and filled the streets with tons of potatoes sprayed with petrol. Then, at Morlaix, 4,000 young farmers invaded the streets with tractors and seized the sub-prefecture. Many of them were prosperous vegetable growers on the rich coastal plain. When their leader, Alexis Gourvennec, was arrested by the police, sympathy riots spread throughout the west. For the first time, farmers were protesting for progress, not against it. ‘L’agriculture de papa est morte’ read the triumphant banners. De Gaulle, the then President, responded quickly. As Minister of Agriculture he appointed Edgard Pisani, an ex-prefect, who in the next years proved the most forceful and far-sighted figure to have filled the normally unwanted post in this century. He created a new pension fund to encourage older farmers to retire; an agency for buying and redistributing land; and a system to help farmers to form groups both for marketing and shared production. His laws became the basis of all later government policy for modernizing agriculture. The young farmers then infiltrated the FNSEA itself, of which Debatisse was president in The FNSEA is the main agricultural union, and until the 80s helped to plan and implement agricultural policy in a system of what is called ‘co-gestion’ or co-management. The Pisani laws granted financial aid (via the Credit Agricole, the state-backed cooperative rural bank) and a legal structure to groups sharing equipment, and there are now more than 6,000 of these. A different kind of state-backed group, the Groupement Agricole d’Exploitation en Commun, facilitates the enlargement of farms by enabling the land itself to be jointly owned (problem with farms in France very small, impossible to run efficiently & not suitable for mechanisation – Napoleonic inheritance laws). There are some 47,000 GAECs, and generally they succeed when they belong to the same family. Another official remedy ot the problem of strips of land rather than viable sized farms has been the controversial policy of remembrement: by subisdizing up to 80% of the legal and field costs, g’ments have sought to encourage farmers to make rational swaps, and some 14 million hectares have been remembrés since the war. The results have been variable, far better in the go-ahead north than the sluggish south. Regrouping is not imposed on a commune unless over half the farmers are in favour. But in the Massif Central today only a minority of communes have yet been touched. Farmers have also been forming new groups to market their produce. […] Since the 1960s, the g’ment has sponsored the building of modern marketing centres, which have reduced the abuses. And the farmer himself has become more businesslike: by forming sales groups, he is now better able to combat the middlemen. Hundreds of these Sociétés d’Intérêt Collectif Agricole (SICA), state-assisted, have achieved good results in preventing prices from tumbling in a crisis.

4 Edith Cresson and the FNSEA
Challenge to the dominant position of the FNSEA Edith Cresson and Francois Guillaume The post-war years, then, saw a transformation in agriculture that resulted in a reduction in the number of farms (from 5, 632, 000 in 1882 to 1.5 million in 1970 and 735,000 in 1995) but in increasingly efficient and better organised production. The 1980s saw a desire to shift the primary mode of state-sector relations (co-gestion, gvment and FNSEA) to one of sector-specific corporatism. New policy networks included the Minister of Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance, farmers’ commodity associations, and other representatives of a vertical slice of the agri-food economy focused on a particular commodity. A ‘loi d’orientation’ (policy statement) in 1980 which suggested an economically more liberal orientation brought increased opposition from the FNSEA, and there was a break-away group called the Federation nationale des syndicats paysans. Then, in 1981, the Socialists came to power. Within EEC, Mitterrand took on Giscard’s mantle of protecting Fr agriculture and keeping financial concessions to Br to a minimum. Edith Cresson, abrasive & outspoken Agriculture minister, consulted with small leftish groups such as CP and refused to treat the FNSEA as ministry’s sole privileged partner. In public conflict with FNSEA president, François Guillaume, wealthy cattle breeder from Lorraine. Spoke in derisive tones of ‘woman who knows nothing about farming’. She was forced to back down on radical plans for land distribution. Edith Cresson tried to encourage other unions chased across fields when she tried to justify gment policies. Farmers actually did well out of socialist experiment. Much of increase in consumer spending was on food farmers’ best year since early 1970s. Gment intervention continued to guarantee artificially high prices for grain and sugar beet. Also now gment policy to try to prevent no of farms from falling below 1 million. Growing unemployment in towns, little point in postwar policy of amalgamation and economies of scale. Small, inefficient, labour-intensive holdings that were despair of planners in 50s and 60s now had more nostalgic attraction – seemed short term answer to many problems. But number of full time farms already down to 800,000 and only chance of holding million line was to encourage part-time smallholders who ran their plots as income supplements or hobbies.

5 The CAP and its effects 1958 and protectionism 1984 Milk quotas
1988 Measures against overproduction of wine and cereals 1990 Ray MacSharry report 1992 CAP reform 1993 Uruguay Round of the GATT talks Socialists policies were forced, though, to change. One of U-turns of Mitterrand gment as a result of economic disasters was their attitude to CAP. Gment decided to abandon traditional resistance to EC demands for reform of CAP – this infuriated farmers. The reasons the socialists were forced to change their policies was because in Europe agriculture is no longer limited to the decisions and judgements of one state. Much of what happens on French farms, as in Britain, is dependent upon the Common Agricultural Policy or CAP (PAC in French). Originally, the archi-complex system comprised a CAP levy on agricultural imports from outside the EU, redistributed to farmers in the form of exports subsidies and prices supports (covering essentially sugar beet, dairy products, most cereals, some fruit and veg). This protectionist system aimed to encourage EU self-sufficiency and to ensure a decent living standard for farmers regardless of the market prices, and it helped mostly countries such as Fr that were net exporters. It was in many ways a golden age for French farmers, getting rid of competition from outside the EU and being the dominant producer within Europe. France was also very dominant within European policy-making, farmers were a very important voting lobby, so their interests were always represented. However, this system was to some extent a victim of its own success. It proved expensive for national budgets since the price supports and other subsidies were allowed to exceed by far the size of the levy, thus creating heavy annual deficits. This was because the EU, yielding to pressure from farmers’ lobbies, fixed the prices for many products around the level of the highest then obtaining, not the average. Thus if wheat was cheapest in Fr and dearest in Germany, the German price was chosen for the CAP. This encouraged farmers to overproduce in many sectors, knowing that their surplus would be bought up anyway, then either dumped on the world markets or expensively stockpiled. The notorious ‘butter mountain’ caused a scandal in the 1970s, resulting in the cheap sale of butter to Russia. By 1986 the CAP’s stocks had reached 15 million tons of grain, 750,000 tons of beef and 1.4 million of butter. This led to increasing pressure to reform the CAP – Margaret Thatcher was one of the voices raised against its ‘waste’. Europe was enlarging, and America was equally protesting against its protectionist policies which made it difficult for its farmers to be competitive. Eventually, it became evident that the CAP had to be reformed. It began by partial reforms which concerned more and more areas of agricultural production. In the EEC finally began to take some concerted measures to oblige farmers to limit production, starting with milk quotas, under the finance minister Michel Rocard. Despite massive opposition, they are generally held to have been a success – mainly because Rocard encouraged unproductive or older dairy farmers to sell their quotas to younger more profitable farmers so they wouldn’t lose out. Nevertheless, there was still sporadic violence in 1984, as farmers joined forces to protest against the milk quotas, plus British lamb imports, a drop in pork prices, threats of Spanish competition over wine and fruit, and so on. Farmers threw bombs at town halls, tore up railway lines, attacked Br and Sp lorries and spread dung in the forecourts of Paris ministries. By the late 1980s all EEC g’ments recognized that quotas were not enough. So the Commissioner for Agriculture, Ray McSharry, from a small-farm Sligo background, drew up a bold scheme that would put a ceiling on aids for large farmers, thus narrowing the gap with small ones; and he was warmly backed in Brussels by Jacques Delors, who also had small-farm roots. But some key member g’ments, notably Britain, argued that any such cut in price supports for the big cereal exporters would limit their competitiveness and thus harm trade. So the scheme was rejected. Instead, another solution was worked out. This important reform, adopted in 1992 switched many supports from the produce itself to the producer: in other words, notably in cereals, the CAP would now do less topping up of prices, and instead would give direct ‘compensation’ grants to farmers. As these were related to the size of their farms, not of their output, they might reduce their incentive to overproduce. The reform also introduced a system of ‘set-asides’, novel for the CAP, whereby farmers would receive subsidies for letting part of their land lie fallow each year. Thirdly, in the livestock sectors, the reform did retain one element of the earlier McSharry proposals: it set its upper limits on the number of ‘headage’ payments (i.e. subsidies per animal) that any individual farmer could receive. Generally in France some sections of the farming community were hit much harder than others. Some growers – of sugarbeet, for example, that was already under quotas – were relatively unaffected. Beef farmers, however, were massively affected. Smaller beef farmers struggled to survive. They weren’t helped by lower demand for red meet, especially after the ‘mad cow’ crisis of 1996 (of which more later) This made it easier to reach an agreement in the GATT’s Uruguay-round talks, where the French had argued that the US was driving too hard a bargain. The GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) crisis of 1993 drew out all the latent anti-Americanism of the French, among farmers, public and politicians alike. The EU agreed to limit a subsidised export quota of 19 million tons in 1995 and to progressively reduce this to 13.4 million tons by Balladur skilfully managed to sell to his own public as a Fr victory, while partly pacifying his farmers with special hand-outs. But this has had an effect on French export, particularly of wheat, which has dropped by 30%. They have attempted to trade instead with the countries the US won’t trade with – I.e. Middle East, China, Cuba etc. – who have become important clients for exported French wheat. The 1992 CAP reform has been judged a modest success by many Fr officials and farm leaders, but not all. Certainly, it has reduced the surpluses, notably in cereals. And it has made it possible to limit the wasteful system of ‘intervention’ buying, whereby the CAP would guarantee to buy up a farmer’s excess produce and destroy it or sell it off cheaply abroad. The CAP’s burden on the EU budget has been eased a little. And the cuts in export subsidies have induced farmers to sell more wheat for animal feed on the home market, thus reducing the EU’s costly feed import bills – one main purpose of the reform. But in many cases it has not necessarily discouraged overproduction – farmers still desperately try to make a living by maximising their subsidies wherever possible, and the richer farmers still receive the vast majority of the subsidies. This has led to a need for new reforms, that will take effect in 2005.

6 CAP Reform of 2005 Single farm payments
Financial crisis and environmental protection On 26 June 2003, EU farm ministers adopted a fundamental reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The reform will completely change the way the EU supports its farm sector. The new CAP will be geared towards consumers and taxpayers, while giving EU farmers the freedom to produce what the market wants. In future, the vast majority of subsidies will be paid independently from the volume of production. To avoid abandonment of production, Member States may choose to maintain a limited link between subsidy and production under well defined conditions and within clear limits. These new "single farm payments" will be linked to the respect of environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards. Severing the link between subsidies and production will make EU farmers more competitive and market orientated, while providing the necessary income stability. More money will be available to farmers for environmental, quality or animal welfare programmes by reducing direct payments for bigger farms. The Council further decided to revise the milk, rice, cereals, durum wheat, dried fodder and nut sectors. In order to respect the tight budgetary ceiling for the EU-25 until 2013, ministers agreed to introduce a financial discipline mechanism. This reform will also strengthen the EU's negotiating hand in the ongoing WTO trade talks. The different elements of the reform will enter into force in 2004 and The single farm payment will enter into force in If a Member State needs a transitional period due to its specific agricultural conditions, it may apply the single farm payment from 2007 at the latest. Key elements of the reformed CAP A single farm payment for EU farmers, independent from production; limited coupled elements may be maintained to avoid abandonment of production, this payment will be linked to the respect of environmental, food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare standards, as well as the requirement to keep all farmland in good agricultural and environmental condition ("cross-compliance"), a strengthened rural development policy with more EU money, new measures to promote the environment, quality and animal welfare and to help farmers to meet EU production standards starting in 2005, a reduction in direct payments ("modulation") for bigger farms to finance the new rural development policy, a mechanism for financial discipline to ensure that the farm budget fixed until 2013 is not overshot, revisions to the market policy of the CAP: asymmetric price cuts in the milk sector: The intervention price for butter will be reduced by 25% over four years, which is an additional price cut of 10% compared to Agenda 2000, for skimmed milk powder a 15% reduction over three years, as agreed in Agenda 2000, is retained, reduction of the monthly increments in the cereals sector by half, the current intervention price will be maintained, reforms in the rice, durum wheat, nuts, starch potatoes and dried fodder sectors.

7 Protests Protest traditions Coordination rurale (CR)
Confédération paysanne (CP) José Bové French farmers have had a tradition of taking their disgruntlements with government policy onto the streets. As I mentioned earlier, they did this in the 1960s, objecting to the governments’ lack of help with reforms to agriculture, in 1984 against milk quotas and at various points and regions since in objection to changes in European regulations or what they see as unfair competition from importers. In 1992, for example,the FNSEA took the lead in organising protests, with farmers blocking a number of railway lines, a campaign of mayhem which was to sharpen the resolve of the French gment to take a tough line with America in the Uruguay Round of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) in Autumn Luc Guyeau, FNSEA President, spoke of the threats to the protective and popular CAP emananting from an alliance of Brussels technocrats and multinational food industries. He wanted to defend a specifically European pattern of agriculture against US model. Even so the French farming community was to indicate its deep dissatisfaction with those concessions that Fr did manage to win in the provisional agreements that emerged. It was farmers sceptism that assisted a Right victory in 1993 French election. Coordination Rurale Disenchanted FNSEA members started to leave the union in the early 90s and some formed the Coordination Rurale. Its growing support initially came from cereal producers in the Paris Bassin. Reliant on existing CAP support prices and having taken out substantial loans, many were in serious financial difficulty. In 1992, the CR organised opposition to CAP reform and GATT negotiation and called for adequate EU protection. It attacked uncontrolled globalisation and appealed for support beyond the farming community. In Sep 93 it organised a blockade of Paris. In 1994 it became a syndicat agricole. Officially recognised in He denounced the EU export commitment as a lie to make farmers accept lower prices. CR not the only break-away farmer’s union organising violent protests. Also the CP. Acted against increasing domination of agriculture by corporations and factory farms. Criminal acts of violence part of a crusade against the US and ‘globalisation’. Extremely reactionary, xenophobic. Demanded changes to property taxes, production rights and subsidies to farmers. Allied to the MODEF (mouvement de defense des exploitations familiales). Both denounced CAP and wanted France to redicrect public subsidies to help farmers in the most precarious circumstances. Many farmers, whether or not they belonged to the CR or CP or MODEF, reacted negatively to European integration in the 90s, and resorted to strikes, demonstrations and violence. Sometimes this provided an outlet for Europsceptic sentiment or xenophobia, particularly anti-Americanism. Jose Bove Jose Bove is a very well-known figure in France, and has shown an ability to use the world media in order to secure a wider audience for his messages. He represents for many opposition to liberal economics and globalisation (especially the US). Jose Bove defines himself as a simple farmer from the Midi, the producer of a local cheese, who calls himself a ‘paysan’. This is an ideologically loaded term. In the 70s many social historians were writing about the demise of the ‘paysan’, meaning the demise of a whole way of life, traditional French rural life, in favour of modernisaiton, industrialisation, urbanisation. However, the term has reemerged in recent years amongst agricutlural protest groups. For gropus such as the CP, the ‘paysan’ is understood as a small independent producer, who may or may not own his land. He usually has inherited a family concern. He accepts modernisation but wants to control it, does not want it go get out of hand. He wants to keep his independence and not become a powerless pawn in a world market. He is equally part of his local area, he is a ‘homme du pays, integre dans un territoire’, understanding of the rural way of life and in fact integral to the continuation of this way of life. He believes in cooperation and not in massive agribusiness. Jose Bove has managed to fit in with this notion of the respectable ‘paysan’ and has struck a chord with many. He had his first taste of protest when the army wanted to take over some of the land in his local area, in the South of France. Mitterrand’s victory ensured the protest groups success. He belongs to a generation which is used to the idea of protest and direct action, when 1968 was still remembered, when consumer society was seen as an evil to fight against. His great idea was to take part in a protest which would be covered by the world’s media – to attack a symbol of globalisation, of the loss or rural traditions and traditional French produce – MacDonalds. What the protestors did was to remove the building materials for a new Macdonalds in Millau in August Bove, with his famous moustache and rural clothes, appealed to a large section of the population dissatisfied with their leaders and the economic state of their country. He seemed to speak for many, and his term ‘malbouffe’ for the changing eating practises of the French caught on. He was imprisoned but was supported by many. Financial support came in from all over the country. In Autumn 1999 he went to Seattle to the OMC (WTA). He handed out French cheese to American farmers, and brandished a Roquefort (his local cheese) in a meeting of US students. His trial in 2000 was accompanied by large protests. Bove has also sought and found alliances with similar movements in other countries. Unlike some members of the CR and CP he is not necessarily reactionary or right-wing. He supports the Sans-Papiers and is not anti-urban necessarily… He irritated the leaders – Jospin and Chirac. His campaign has lost some momentum. His appearance on popular TV shows has been criticised by some. He remains however an important figure in the French agricultural debate. In a survey carried out in March 2002, farmers considered him as the person who was the most likely to defend their interests.

8 Crises BSE (Mad cow disease)
The protests have been intimately linked to a number of ‘crises’ to hit European agriculture since WWII, the most famous of which is ‘la crise de la vache folle’ (mad cow disease). The relationships between farmers and consumers have generally been strained, and some of the sympathy for protest groups such as that represented by Jose Bove has come from consumers who are concerned about the costs of increased efficiency and production. Anti-GM (OGM in French) crop demonstrations, worries about antibiotics in farm animals, and about fertilizers, are all part of the same movement. Generally, though, it must be said that French consumers, like elsewhere, have adapted to the changing agricultural practises – and indeed appreciate wider choice and lower costs of the massive supermarket chains. But the affair of the ‘mad cow’ was highly significant. La crise de la vache folle In France this was a highly emotive issue, and had a significant effect on the population’s attitudes to agriculture. Consumers, who had been increasingly distanced from the origins of their food, suddenly became aware of the realities of modern beef farming. Farmers were not directly responsible for the epidemic – the probably cause is the industrial procedures of the manufacturers of animal fodder. But it was an ever-increasing desire for costcutting that led to animal proteins being used in feed. It first appeared in the UK in 85, and was disastrous for British beef farmers. In 1992 in the UK there were 37,000 cases, and in other countries the numbers were also rising. But the real problems began when a link was made between ‘mad cow disease’ and the human form of BSE, CJD Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in Panic spread across Europe. For several weeks almost nobody ate beef, and politicians were forced to be filmed and photographs chewing large steaks to attempt to restore consumer confidence. From 1990 France and Germany tried to block the export of beef from the UK, and in 1996 there was an embargo on UK beef. The public was equally horrified to learn that animals were being fed on ‘farines de viande et d’os’. For French towndwellers their utopic vision of a cow grazing on lucious grass was ruined. This method of feeding cattle had been officially banned since 1988 in the UK and in the EU since Other measures to combat the disease, including the tracability of meat – cow ‘passports’ etc’ – were slow to be implemented but now exist everywhere. Consumption of beef has slowly increased, but not to previous levels. The European Parliament set up an enquiry in 1996, but this didn’t reassure consumers. In 1998, the European Commission decided that the embargo could be lifted on British beef, but France and Germany refused to allow it to be imported. They were eventually forced by a legal challenge (things got very nasty…) to lift the embargo, in August France vowed to be transparent in terms of information to consumers. In 2000, a case of la vache folle

9 Productivism v Ruralism
Changing conceptions of the role of the ‘agriculteur’ Productivism v ruralism The future of French farming?

Download ppt "French Agriculture Post-war ‘Revolution’"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google