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French farming...

Interesting article in the Indie. Perhaps the grass isn't as much greener as some seem to believe?

Re: French farming...

sean wrote:
Interesting article in the Indie. Perhaps the grass isn't as much greener as some seem to believe?

I don't think it is. I'm sure HWH could add her own observations

Tahir, I could go on and on...

I've mentioned this before on Downsizer;

There were three million farms in France in 1970. Now there are 600,000.

The government want to reduce that figure even further and very quickly.

I've spoken to the MSA (The French farmers' social security system.)loads of times about the difficulties facing farmers who now earn nothing from their farms, despite the fact that five years before the farm could support the whole family.

The answer is always the same. (This is the answer they have been told to give.) That farmers must consider their farms as a business not as way of life, and if they need to earn more money they can develop into tourism or the profitable areas of farming; intensive foie gras, intensive pigs, intensive calves or cereals.

Ironically, all of these farming methods are due for reform and farmers who put any of their eggs in these particular baskets will probably lose them (and their homes) within a few years.

The short term-effect of going down the intensive route means quick money, but there's also shame in the community to have to torture animals. (Farmers are often animals lovers.) Also, the stink around the areas where the intensive farms are, causes are a lot of neighbour "incidents". There are tremendous problems with the logistics of transport on small country raods and storage of feedstuffs, of disposing of sludge and dead animals. (It's very hot here, even today, in mid-March, I've come in for a break from the heat.)

You can imagine the social problems too. Parents who want the children to continue not just with the farm, but using and living on the land and homes where their parents and grandparents were born. The young people don't want to stay in the environment, and often can't even earn a wage for themselves, and of course, nobody wants to marry a farmer. Confused

We continue to farm because we've a high profit product. We also have a property co-operatve which turns over slowly but surely. We run courses (In French only for the time being.) and we have the potential to go into other areas of business (We're working on that) or work outside the home if we need or want to.

We pay about six grand a year in charges, tax and SS payments and, frankly, I think that's a bargain.

The way of life we have is just wonderful - but we have a lot of business experience, money behind us, good marketing skills blah, blah. Many of our neighbours don't and they've never done anything else and they feel they can't do anything else and it's heartbreaking to see the results of economic "growth" all around us and how it wrecks people's lives.

I'd dissuade anyone who wants to go into extensive farming in France. Of all the students I've had at the agriculture colled where I work (two weeks last year!) I've only had three or four students who are now "sort of" making a living without going intensive.

The Salon d'Agriculture is a propoganda show, nothing more.

Sorry for the long post... Cool

Thanks for that Irene, not much better than here then.
moules and frites

There is a similar storyline in the March 2007 issue of Living France magazine which states "after the war there were two million farms in France now there are less than 350,000". (pages 25/26/27)

However this is not all bad news for downsizers and smallholders who can get great value for money buying run down small farms !!
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