winners and losers of French agriculture

Regardless of the sector, approximately 390,000 French operators are suffering from rising fuel prices, in particular for off-road diesel fuel (GNR), which has accelerated since Russia’s entry into the war.

But with the rise in prices for cereals is another matter. With soft wheat priced at almost €320/t in the 2022 campaign (1), compared to €260/t in mid-February, breeders are seeing their production costs skyrocket. Field crop growers will be able to recover their profits and take advantage of new market opportunities.

→ ANALYSIS. War in Ukraine: the wheat planet is in turmoil before the threat of shortages

“For the next harvest, with the classical production potential, without weather hazards, the increase in fertilizers is covered by the increase in wheat prices. At the moment, a grain farmer is there.” explains Arthur Portier, Agritel consultant.

Solidarity in question

Can we imagine solidarity actions between farmers in this context? The oldest remember the creation in the 1970s of a “solidarity fund between cereal producers and breeders”, which is now out of use. “We call for setting the price of solidarity in the agricultural world”, so defends Lawrence Marandola, national secretary of the Confederation of Peasants and Livestock Breeders in Ariège. This could, for example, include the sale of products such as straw or hay at a discount, which is important for livestock farmers who get their supplies from local cereal producers.

“Today, the crop grower has market opportunities, whereas two years ago it was barely covering its production costs. Under these conditions, it is difficult to demand greater solidarity from him. Moreover, his German and Spanish counterparts will sell at the market price.”, sweeps Henri Bis-Peret, vice president of the FNSEA. In addition, economic uncertainty does not encourage grain producers to make discounts.. “In the medium term, the situation remains extremely unstable. There is no indication that the next harvest will be good or that prices will remain high.”details by Arthur Portier.

Export selection

First of all, in addition to market opportunities, arbitrage is especially challenging for field crop producers. “Specifically, you have Morocco, Egypt, which are turning to France for our wheat. Either we feed the human mouths in these countries, or we satisfy the demand for French animal products. We have made a choice in favor of export.” Henri Bis-Peret defends.

→ REPORT. Tunisia: War in Ukraine exacerbates wheat shortage

For the majority union, manufacturers must respond to demand, and government agencies, as well as large retailers, must bear the consequences of the price surge. If that last point is under negotiation, the state has already announced a series of direct assistance as part of its resiliency plan, unveiled March 16. In particular, it is planned to allocate a fund of 400 million euros for breeders in a difficult situation.

Food sovereignty first

For the FNSEA, the situation of tension in agricultural markets signals a resolute return of a more productive vision of French agriculture in the name of food sovereignty and France’s export vocation. “Europe and France, a major agricultural power, have a responsibility: to feed their people and, moreover, to help feed the world.”– says the Minister of Agriculture Julien Denormandy in harmony.

→ ANALYSIS. War in Ukraine: Should the EU review its agricultural production?

The first concrete application of this principle is that the European Union, in particular under pressure from France, has just loosened rules on fallow land in order to increase production. An intonation that is not to everyone’s taste. “On the contrary, this crisis should have been an opportunity to question our dependence on resources and fertilizers. thus laments Lawrence Marandola. Instead, we are taking the opportunity to go and reclaim land that is hardly productive. »

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