In 2013 the new European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will come into force. Sarkozy is aiming at French rural development towards mixed farms – crops and livestock – which are self sufficient in proteins and less dependent on imported (GM)soybeans for animal feed.
The stakes are high for the head of the state, who is to open the Franch “Salon de Agriculture” (agriculture exhibition) on Saturday, which annually attracts over 600,000 visitors in a giant farm with 4,500 animals in the heart of Paris.
Being aware of the fact that he has to restore his image with the French farmers Sarkozy announced four main paths to follow:
- A bill to modernize the agriculture and food to prepare for the CAP 2013, which must be filed by the end of the year. Its aim: to create awareness in France of the future CAP before talking big money with European partners.
The overall budget of the CAP amounted to 53 billion euros; 17% of this allocation goes to French farming, who is the primary beneficiary but also the largest producer on the Old Continent.
Sarkozy want to review the criteria for allocating aid. The President wants, through this legislation, review the criteria for allocating aid to farmers that are real entrepreneurs and not bounty-hunters. This includes a review of national tools that support French agriculture. "The historical references will be phased out," Sarkozy said.
The grants will be allocated to support a farm that is oriented towards a more economic approach, with more added value and which is more environmentally friendly.
- The second announcement is budgetary. It responds to a request by the leader of the farmers organisation FNSEA, Jean-Michel Lemétayer. The State in 2010 will redistribute the agriculture budget commitments that are planned to be canceled under the RGPP (general review of public policies), ie almost 300 million euros.
"This money will be used to finance modernization priorities provided by the government in the redevelopment of the CAP," said Nicolas Sarkozy.
It will implement most measures of the CAP health check agreed under the French presidency last November: enhanced support livestock in grassland areas and upgrading the compensation for farming in mountain areas.
- The third presidential commitment is the creation of a group of international experts who will focus on measures to limit the impact of market volatility of agricultural raw materials through better governance. Sarkozy will propose this initiative to its partners at the upcoming G8-meeting.
- Finally, the fourth point refers to the plan "Objectif terre 2020”. It encompasses ten environmental challenges that must comply to in the next decade regarding water quality, use of pesticides and increasing of the grass land area.
It is up to Michel Barnier, Minister of Agriculture, to address the measures resulting from these proposals.
The president will have the opportunity to quickly test the reaction of the agricultural world, when he officially opens the Agriculture Exhibition in Porte de Versailles, a meeting place of world politics.