“Farmers are at work,” but the situation is “very diverse depending on the production,” says FNSEA President

With the Covid-19 epidemic, many Frenchmen bring fruits and vegetables to their homes, without intermediaries like here in Puy-de-Dôme.
With the Covid-19 epidemic, many Frenchmen brought fruits and vegetables to their homes, without intermediaries like here in Puy-de-Dôme. (Thierry ZOCCOLAN / AFP)

Emmanuel Macron was in Finistère on Wednesday, April 22, where he visited a farm before going to the supermarket. The Head of State went “thank you to the staff who help feed the country”, Farmers at work, confident in franceinfo Christiane Lambert, president of the first FNSEA Agricultural Union.

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“We had to adapt”, emphasizes Christian Lambert, but “Some farmers are more affected”such as winemakers or gardeners. “It is very diverse depending on the production.” The FNSEA president stresses that the French “I realized that food was a necessity” and I could see going “in the case of fruit and vegetables of the producers”, the reality of their work.

franceinfo: What is the state of mind of farmers?

Christian Lambert: Farmers are at work. There was no professional prison at all because it is spring, there is a lot of work. In addition, as the French changed their diet, they needed to adapt to produce and deliver on time rather than breaking the food chain. However, some farmers are heavily affected. Gardeners no longer sell anything. Winemakers, no more showrooms, no restaurants, so consumption dropped sharply. Horse farms, no more audience, so no one is welcome. It is very diverse in terms of production.

What are the demands of farmers?

The first expectation is that the promises of the President of the Republic, who have regained food sovereignty, will be a reality, that this will be realized. For many years we have regretted that in particular in supermarkets the prices of products have always been lowered. Which led to a lot of imports. Did you know, for example, that we import 55% of the strawberries we eat? So, the price of Spanish strawberries, which is indicative, lowers prices. What we are expecting is that the food law passed two years ago will be truly implemented in order to have income and rewards for producers and attractiveness. If we want food sovereignty, that is, to produce our own food, it must be profitable for farmers.

If prices go up, who benefits?

It depends. Today for strawberries, for asparagus goes into the pocket of producers. They sell their asparagus and strawberries at a rewarding price to the growers. Good Today, this is less for meat producers. It is more difficult for milk producers because there is a huge change in consumption. The French no longer eat cheese by the glass, eat yogurt, milk. And so the product evaluation changed. So, not all farmers find excess pennies in their portfolios.

What is the lesson of this crisis for the French?

Many have realized that food is a necessity. This is what the President of the Republic himself said “heals, foods and works”, Nutrition is very important. Good health also makes us more resistant to Covid-19. Food has long been commonplace. Everyone thought we would always eat a lot, that we could go get everything in China, in South America, in Canada, anywhere. Today we are able to provide all the needs of wheat, flour, milk. We have deficits in a number of products, including fruit. We have increased our imports by 50% in the last ten years, because cheaper prices are elsewhere than in France. In France, we have higher prices because we have higher social costs and higher costs for health and the environment. But this allows thousands of jobs to be supported and the French to work. This nutritional sovereignty, if this is the aim of France, also means that there must be an educational approach to food that explains why eating well is more expensive. And the French, who went to buy from the fruit and vegetable producers, also saw that, to earn their living, farmers worked from 5 to 22 hours and prepared their truck for the next morning. Well, their work comes at a price.

“Farmers are at work,” but the situation is “very diverse depending on the production,” says FNSEA President
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