Macron speaks on farms, glyphosate, and food in France

President Macron said it would not be possible to ban glyphosate by 2021, but a significant reduction was foreseeable

French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken out on several key issues affecting farming and agriculture, including the herbicide glyphosate, “agri-bashing”, and supermarket prices.

The comments come ahead of the agriculture show, le Salon de l’Agriculture, which opens tomorrow (Saturday February 22).

The end of glyphosate?

Mr Macron confirmed that ending the use of glyphosate completely by 2021 was “not possible across all farms”.

The president had said, in 2017, that he would consider a total ban on the herbicide “within three years”.

Yet, he said that it was now possible to envisage a very significant reduction in the quantities used.

He said: “The government has asked Anses [food health agency l'Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'alimentation] and Inra [agronomic research centre l'Institut national de la recherche agronomique] to identify viable alternatives and to organise an exit from [using] glyphosate on an objective basis."

Mr Macron added that by the end of the year, Anses will have determined use cases and authorised dosages, “so we can exit from the use of glyphosate as soon as there are viable alternatives for our farmers”.

“Agri-bashing”

The president said he would accept “no violence” towards farmers.

“Agri-bashing” first entered popular consciousness in France last year, after it became popularised by farming union FNSEA (Fédération nationale des syndicats d'exploitants agricoles), to describe actions designed to permanently damage farms and farmers.

These included livestock farms being invaded by protesters, farmers being attacked, and even the banning of certain pesticides.

Mr Macron said: “Today we can feel a strong tension in society and we must both protect farmers from stigma that they face, and also succeed in transforming the agricultural model.

"I will tolerate no violence against farmers. Whistle-blowers are one thing; but we cannot accept any form of violent activism.”

 

Food laws

Mr Macron also spoke on the issue of pricing at large supermarkets, versus ensuring that farmers are adequately paid.

This issue was regulated in October 2018 by la loi Agriculture et Alimentation, known as the “loi alimentation”, or the “food law”. It stipulates that supermarkets cannot sell their products at such a low prices that farmers effectively receive nothing.

Mr Macron said: “The loi alimentation is starting to have an impact [but] everyone is responsible.”

The president congratulated low-cost chain Lidl for its “contracts, visible pricing and visibility [of farmers]”, but condemned the Leclerc group for not conforming.

He said that “four million euros worth of fines had been confirmed for supermarkets that do not respect the rules”.

He added: “The biggest difficulty that we are facing, are those who try to get around the law by putting their central buying warehouses in Belgium. They do not play soft - well, neither do I, so that works well."

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