In order to meet growing consumer demand, the Farm Minister in France plans to double the area of farmland devoted to organic agriculture by 2017. Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll told Reuters the expansion would boost research and training in growing techniques, and bring more organic food into outlets.
“We’re going to develop in such a way that we’ll increase volume while maintaining the level of quality,” he told reporters at a presentation of his organic farming plan.
“I want the French (organic) sector to be a high-quality one.”
France will raise subsidies for organic farmers to 160 million euros annually on average during 2014-2020, compared to 90 million euros last year.
Reuters notes the market for organic food in France was worth 4.17 billion euros ($5.40 billion) last year, according to the agency that promotes the development of the sector.
And while an economic downturn has slowed growth from double-digit levels in previous years, in 2012 sales were still up 6.6 percent on year.
Although organic farming has exploded in France, the European Union’s biggest agricultural producer, it only accounted for 1 million hectares or 3.7 percent of farmland nationally at the end of 2012.
The French organic food agency claims imported organic food accounted for 25 percent of demand last year, down from 32 percent in 2011.
Officials in France stressed that attracting crop farmers remains challenging given high yields and profitable market prices for conventional grain, with major crop belts among those regions with the lowest share of organic farmland.
To ensure organic produce finds a domestic market, the government will encourage institutional caterers to target a 20 percent share for organic food in their menus.
The Future is Locally Grown, Organic Food
After the French government overturned a ban on genetically modified corn, last summer President Francois Hollande extended a GMO moratorium despite actions by what is the equivalent of the supreme court of his government, reaffirming the French commitment to keeping GMO crops out.
France and other nations in the EU oppose Monsanto and GMO crops, while countries such as Russia, Australia, Italy, and more have mandatory labeling for of nearly all GMO foods.
Organic farming and local food movements across the globe are slowly but inexorably expanding, and eventually will replace the factory farming paradigm that robs us all of safe, healthy food free of GMO’s.
Factory farms are beginning to lose their price advantage over locally grown food because there’s a shortage of cheap labor due to a thinning stream of migrant workers from Mexico.
In 2011, a USDA study concluded the local food industry was four times bigger than in any previous count, upward of $4.8 billion. Growing food locally and purchasing food from small, local farms is the only way to end the global dominance of huge, corporate owned factory farms.
The local, organic food movement will put an end to Big AG, where food is contaminated by scores of toxic chemical pesticides, GMO crops, and the unlimited and unregulated use of antibiotics and hormones in farm animals that poisons cheese, milk and meat.