Terre de Liens, the French civic movement promoting access to land for peasant, organic farmers, just released its first report on The State of Farmland in France. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the many pressing trends deteriorating the quality, availability and accessibility of farmland in our country. In a context where the latest agricultural statistics confirm a continuous decline in the number of farms and farmers, the report explores three main dimensions:
- Farmland is under threat as a result of urban and infrastructure development and soil degradation;
- Farmland is increasingly without farmers as a result of land concentration and obstacles to the entry of new generations, particularly affecting aspiring farmers who are coming from outside of a farming family and/or those who plan to start an agroecological farm;
- Farmland for food production: we are calling for farmland to be first and foremost directed to food production, to improve food and farming systems to ensure the right to food for all, and to progress towards a more democratic approach to both food and land.
The report s highlights that:
- 80,000 farming jobs have been lost between 2010 and 2020: for decades, French agriculture has been experiencing a kind of silent compulsory redundancy which we urgently need to overturn.
- With the ageing of farmers, 5 million hectares will change hands by 2030. Currently, two thirds of farmland which goes on the market ends up consolidating existing farms.
- two thirds of aspiring farmers are coming from outside of a farming family. The potential for generational renewal is huge but existing public aids and mechanisms, as well as bank loans, are not adapted to their needs and profiles.
- For the last 40 years, the agricultural area has decreased by 55,000 hectares per year on average, i.e. more than 5 times the Paris area is lost every year, often permanently.
- Despite political announcements and plans, there has been a paltry decrease in pesticides use. Biodiversity, soil and water pollution, human health and neighbouring organic farmers are paying the price for it. France was again recently criticised by the European Commission for the weakness of the environmental commitments taken in its national strategic plan to implement CAP measures in France.
The State of Farmland in France interweaves policy analysis and statistical data, together with case studies of actions led by Terre de Liens, to address these issues and testimonies of farmers and local actors. It concludes with a set of policy recommendations for the local, national and European level.
The report was launched during the International Agricultural Fair in Paris in February and was well received among civil society organisations and some of the candidates to the presidential and parliamentary elections. Interestingly, it also benefited from good media coverage, including in the mainstream media, giving greater visibility to how the way we use farmland and take care of it directly connects with the quality and availability of our food, health, climate urgency, protection of natural resources, creation of local jobs, or liveliness of rural areas.
The report is available in French in full (72 pages) and as a 4-pager. An English summary will soon be available.