Local agriculture, protectionism… What are the food sovereignty candidates’ agendas?

With the Covid-19 pandemic slowing production in exporting countries and the war in Ukraine straining trade relations between Russia and the West, the question of French food independence has been raised in recent months. And in the minds of presidential candidates. And for good reason: According to an agricultural cooperation survey conducted with Ifop and published in February, 46% of French people say they are worried about their country’s ability to meet the needs of these fellow citizens by 2050.

As a reminder, food sovereignty is defined as “the right of people to determine their own agricultural and food policies” and “the right to food production and access to healthy food for all,” according to Via Campesina, an international movement. for the recognition of the fundamental rights of the peasants. But what do the 12 contenders for the Elysee Palace offer in this respect? 20 Minutes dissected their programs.

Focus on local production

On this they almost all agree: the French should have access to the best food, with a preference for local produce. Emmanuel Macron (LREM) intends to “revise public procurement policy” by buying “locally, not always buying cheaper.” Jean Lassalle wants to introduce a “peasant voucher” or “extend the use of food stamps to local and regional farmers.” In addition, Valérie Pécresse (LR) aims to “by 2027, 100% of public canteens be supplied with local produce, including organic.” Marine Le Pen (RN) intends to “cover 80% of French agricultural products in canteens” in order to “make imports an exception”.

“Good wine, good meat, good cheese.” Fabien Roussel (PCF), he passionately advocates access to French gastronomy for all. The communist candidate wants to introduce a one-euro meal “from organic and local products” in all schools. Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI) and Yannick Jadot (EELV) want their canteens to be 100% organic and locally sourced. The LFI candidate offers free meals, and the EELV candidate offers “less meat, better quality and respect for animal welfare” food. Finally, Anne Hidalgo, like Emmanuel Macron, wants to experiment with a “sustainable food test” to ensure access to quality food for all. The measure, already passed in Parliament in the Climate and Sustainability Act in July 2021 and delayed until 2022, is “very difficult to implement,” Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

“There are two kinds of leverage that stand out. Rather socio-ecological among the candidates of the left, and economic among the right, the far right or the candidates of Emmanuel Macron,” explains Eva Fuyet, Director of Political Science Research at CNRS. But beware of the phrase “eating local means eating good.” “This stimulates the local economy, but this does not mean that it must be of high quality and / or that the production is environmentally friendly,” the researcher continues. Example: “pollution in the Côte d’Armor”, and in particular the presence of green algae on the beaches and the pollution of groundwater, mainly due to intensive agriculture in the region. “If it’s local AND organic, then yes. »

Move towards protectionism

Another lever of sovereignty is protectionist measures. For Marine Le Pen, who recalls in particular the “Canadian Hormone Beef Scandal in 2020”, “import fraud” must be “fighted.” If Yannick Jadot restricts himself to “European production standards”, then Eric Zemmour advocates a ban on the import of products that do not meet “French and European production standards”. In the same idea, Fabien Roussel wants to go so far as to “put an end” to free trade agreements.

On the European side, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) still raises many questions. If Marine Le Pen wants to complement her aid with “national systems”, Jean-Luc Mélenchon wants to redesign it to “promote sustainable production”. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (DLF) wants to return to the “ESP with its 3 components: community preferences, guaranteed prices and quotas”. Candidates more to the left think that subsidies do not encourage respect for the environment enough, while those more to the right think they do not encourage productivity enough.” In this logic, Marine Le Pen opposes the European farm-to-fork strategy, as does Valerie Pecresse. Regarding CETA and the agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR, Marine Le Pen, Eric Zemmour and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan say they want to reject them.

For more transparency on the origin of products, Valerie Pecresse and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan require a common label with the creation of a “made in France” label for the LR candidate. Eric Zemmour envisions a “Homeland-score” “which will work like a Nutri-Score to indicate the share of value added achieved in France in foods consumed.”

The return of the attractiveness of the farming profession

But the main actors in food sovereignty are the farmers themselves. According to the ministry, 100,000 farms have disappeared in the last ten years. To restore the attractiveness of the profession, Yannick Jadot targeted another 100,000 farmers by guaranteeing them “fair remuneration”, while Jean-Luc Mélenchon targeted 300,000 through “agrarian reform”.

Pointing to the Egalim laws that would not do enough, Fabien Roussel wants to “guarantee favorable prices and prohibit sales at a loss”, just like Marine Le Pen, who intends to “establish a new generation of farmers”. The idea was also shared by Valerie Pekress and Anne Hidalgo. The former wants to apply tax breaks on the transfer of farms, while the latter wants to protect farmland and fight “land grabbing and artificial tillage.”

“Helping the transfer is not something that would increase the number of farmers in France, because it often happens that children do not even want to take over the management of the family farm,” notes Eva Fuyet. The real problem is that young farmers cannot find land to settle in because it is occupied by existing farms.”

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