Organic farmers in France have stripped bare government proposals that they claim will cut their subsidies by 50 per cent.
In a protest last week, the farmers posted online naked photographs of themselves in a bid to reveal how they feel about plans to revamp the French agri support system.
The authorities in Paris, in line with European Union CAP policy, is looking to ditch specific aid for organic farming and replace it with a more general subsidy that will cover green activities of most French farms.
The new policy will reward farmers for practices such as retaining hedgerows and cutting back on fertiliser and pesticide use – but will fail to reward the additional green measures routinely undertaken on organic farms.
Mathieu Rullier, the president of Vienne Agrobio – “bio” is the term used in France for organic – is organising protests in Vienne and in La Rochelle regions.
He described the government action as “a stab in the back” for organic farmers and consumers in France.
“We get very little help compared to the non-bio farms and under these proposals the average farmer will lose aid of €132 per hectare, each year – over half of the help they get,” he told The Connection newspaper.
“People are very angry – the government is always talking of how they support the move to bio and want to cut the use of pesticides in France but when they have a chance to put things into action they do the opposite.
“Under this scheme there will be no difference between a bio farm and an HVE one which still pours synthetic pesticides on the fields.”
The French ministry of agriculture estimates that some 12.6 per cent of cultivated land in the country is under certified organic farming systems.
These new proposals, however, will do nothing to encourage this figure to grow, with the French authorities already acknowledging that its target for 2022 to have at least 15 per cent of farm land organic will not be met.
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