In Southern France, near the Pyrenees, the Perpignan-Méditérannée association of municipalities brings together 36 municipalities and 260 000 inhabitants, around the core city of Perpignan (120 000 inhabitants). The Council of Perpignan-Méditérannée has an active policy of promoting local food systems, by supporting local produce and developing local supply-chains. In addition, it decided to act on farmland.
The territory includes 24 000 hectares of farmland, including 8000 hectares which are left unused. Meantime, the Perpignan-Méditerannée council did not manage to match the needs of prospective farmers seeking to get established on 5 to 10 hectares of land. The situation was all the more complex as farmland in the area is mostly used for wine production, with an average land size of 0,5 ha per land owner.
The Council first mapped the territory to identify the main areas where land was left abandonned or under-used. It identified 9 main areas for a total of 2200 ha. It then focused down on few areas of 20-30 ha for which the SAFER contacted individually each landowner to obtain a sale or rent commitment. In parallel, the Council reaffirmed the agricultural destination of these areas in its overall land planning scheme, so as to prevent expectations that these may be designated for urban development in the future. The Council then conducted some improvement works, to turn a series of micro-plots into a viable unit.
The whole process, conducted from 2010 to 2013, led to the mobilisation of about 50 hectares which are progressively made available for the consolidation of existing farms and for new entrants.
Terre de liens, Agir sur le foncier agricole: un rôle essentiel pour les collectivités locales, 2015