France is seeking its direction for its food sovereignty

France is seeking its direction for its food sovereignty

For four years, the government has found its watchword. A pandemic paralyzes supply chains? The invasion of Ukraine is shaking up the grain and fertilizer market? Angry farmers blocking roads? His answer is immutable: France must strengthen its food sovereignty. Awaited for almost two years and discussed between May 10 and 24, a bill intends to mark “the major general interest character of agriculture, fishing and aquaculture”. But if the word food sovereignty is on everyone's lips, its definition divides.

Introduced at the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996, this notion emanates from the Via Campesina. A network of anti-globalization peasants and others resistant to the free trade rules decreed by the World Trade Organization – at the antipodes of the ideological matrix of the government – ​​who then define it as “the right of each country to maintain and develop its own capacity to produce its basic food.

Is our sovereignty really threatened? For Arnaud Rousseau, president of the FNSEA, the majority trade union organization, at the forefront of discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture and food sovereignty (her again!), the observation is clear. “The problem of food and agricultural sovereignty is due to the fact that we import a third of our food,” he declared on February 20.

Different expectations

But, as is often the case, the reality of the figures is more complex, particularly with regard to the ratio between the production of a commodity and its domestic consumption. With 292% for barley, 265% for skimmed milk powder, 195% for soft wheat, France remains self-sufficient in a number of key productions. “There is no doubt, our food security is assured,” according to Harold Levrel, professor at AgroParisTech. Obviously, we can improve on chicken (81%) or fresh vegetables (84%), but the reality of our agriculture today is that we export what we produce, which leads us to re-import more. other foodstuffs. »

Marine Colli, independent consultant in agricultural policy, draws up another observation of the sovereignty advocated by Emmanuel Macron. “The government's direction is not food self-sufficiency but an export vision of agriculture. » The compass at the Élysée targets the world ranking of agri-food exporters.

Second at the start of the millennium, the country is now only in sixth place, behind the United States, Brazil, China, the Netherlands and Germany. To navigate a planet where geopolitics are tense, must France stay the course not only on the food supply of the French but also on its agricultural influence across the world? MEPs will have to answer this fundamental question while the anger of firm France remains palpable in the countryside.

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