French Agriculture Orgs Demand Macron Rebuild ‘Food Sovereignty’

A farmer plows a field with a tractor on March 13, 2015 in Godewaersvelde, northern France.

Seven French agricultural organisations have called on the government to increase food sovereignty as a response to dangers revealed by the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.

The organisations focused on several points to make France’s agricultural sector less reliant on globalisation and said that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak had revealed weaknesses in the country’s food independence.

“Beyond the economic weaknesses caused by this pandemic, it is today our structural weaknesses that need to be corrected because they directly threaten our food independence, and therefore our sovereignty… our imports, mainly ‘low cost’, are growing faster than our exports. The situation of dependence is growing dangerously,” the letter, published in L’Opinion, said.

The letter went on to note the demographic issues facing France’s farmers, stating that more than half of French farmers are set to retire in less than ten years and called on the government of President Emmanuel Macron to promote agricultural professions to young people.

The organisations also called for restructuring and even relocating production chains, ensure the public knows where French products are coming from, and educate the public regarding costs and a “fair price of food”.

“Rebuilding food sovereignty will be the work of a generation. It will only be possible if it is part of a real process of solidarity. We have always supported the idea that agriculture is an opportunity for France and for Europe. Circumstances brutally demonstrate this today,” they said.

Shortages of certain foods have been feared in the United States, particularly of meat with John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meat producer, warning of fractures in the supply chain due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The issue of globalisation and French reliance on it was also highlighted by those who noted that France once had one of the largest manufacturing facilities of FFP2 respirator masks in Europe in the commune of Plaintel near the city of Saint-Brieuc until its closure in 2018.

According to French union Solidaires Côtes d’Armor, the U.S. conglomerate Honeywell, which owned the factory, shipped it overseas and destroyed the machines used to make the masks.

“They undoubtedly thought as good liberals, that an intervention of the State would be useless, since that in a globalised and happy world, the invisible hand of the market would end up showing its efficiency to preserve the general interest,” the union said.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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