Pay farmers properly, says Macron

Protest poster in French on back of tractor with large wheels
Protests over poor prices for farm produce have taken of roads and streets of France in recent years

President wants end to food price wars and says cost of production will be starting price for negotiations with distributors

President Macron has said he wants to stop food price wars in supermarkets and will move to help farmers get better prices for their work.

Speaking at the Etats Généraux de l’Alimentation consultation at the giant Rungis food market outside Paris on Wednesday, he said he wanted to change the balance in farm price negotiations adding that “farmers should be able to live on their work and food is a key priority for France”.

New decrees would be announced in spring that would rebalance contracts between farmers and distributors with prices being “based on the cost of production”.

He added that the “state will take its responsibilities with effective controls and sanctions applied” and, targeting businesses that do not publish their figures, said “commercial cooperation should be transparent”.

Farming Minister Stéphane Travert said the government wanted a new economic environment where farmers were properly recompensed. “It is not normal, as the Mutuelle Sociale Agricole federation says, that 30% of farmers receive less than €350 a month.

“Amendments to the Code de Commerce and Code Rural will reverse the balance of power between producers, processors and farmers so the farmers can set their own prices, a price no longer imposed by brutal negotiations but fixed according to their real cost of production.”

Mutuelle Sociale Agricole said the average annual revenue for farmers varied from €13,000 to €15,000 and that 20% made a loss in 2016. 

Loire farmer Laurent Pinatel, spokesman for the Confédération Paysanne, praised “innovative” thinking by the new government which was the profound change that farmers had been calling for, with the cost of production being set and then distribution costs on top.

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