What Are The Main Changes In French Agriculture Since 1945 And What Challenges Does It Face Today?

1612 words - 7 pages

In the days following the World War II, France was a devastated and ruined country: 600,000 people had been killed, 10000 bridges and 1 building out of 22 had been destroyed, and losses were estimated at a fourth of the 1938 domestic wealth (Dallenne 2004, 196). As for agriculture, despite several serious damages, it was still a vital part of the French economy. At the time, the majority of the farms were small family holdings equipped with relatively archaic technical means. Over one third of the working population was employed in this sector and a farmer fed 7 persons on average. I will study firstly the main changes that agriculture has undergone since 1945 with respect notably to the farming techniques and their results, to the evolution of holdings, and finally to French regions. Secondly I will deal with the internal agricultural challenges that France is currently facing, then with those linked to international competition and lastly with some solutions that could help the sector to remain dynamic.First and foremost, deep transformations following the Second World War occurred in the French agriculture. A real 'agricultural revolution' (Pitte 2001, 121-123) converted an activity using archaic methods into a productive and high-standard one. There was indeed a sharp increase in the amount of chemicals employed such as weed killers, fertilisers, pesticides or high-protein feeds, and in the number of tractors used -from 20,000 in 1946 to more than 1.2M in 1997. In addition to that, high-yield varieties as well as new managing and productive methods imported from the USA improved outstandingly the efficiency of the branch. For instance the 1955-2000 wheat and corn yields respectively quintupled and sextupled while the quantity of milk per cow tripled. Forgetting the post-war rationing and shortages, France became the 'foremost agricultural nation in the EEC' (Gildea 1996, 104) and, after the United States of America, the second largest exporter in the world.Another major change concerns the agricultural working population and the exploitations. In many respects, the rising efficiency of the sector, a strong demand in the service industry, and an intensifying competitive environment have led to a decrease in the number of farmers and farm labourers. From roughly a third of the French working population in 1946, they represented 3.3% of the workforce in 1999 that is 1.64M people (Frémy 2002: 1484). Moreover their wage has twice less increased than the national mean over the period.Concerning the holdings, their average size has tripled while the number of exploitations has been divided by five to reach 0.8M holdings in 2000. Besides, France's agriculture has arguably become dualist. On the one hand, some holdings have turned into productive capitalist firms linked with food processing industries and mass retail distributors -a fifth of the exploitations producing two third of the national production. But on the other hand, many others -often small-sized and poorly located- have not been able to invest enough to be economically integrated and dynamic, and are consequently declining.Since 1945 the search for ever higher yields has had a major impact over the agricultural landscape. French regions have indeed specialized in five main production types: industrially cultivated cereals in the Paris Basin and in the plains of the North of France; stock farming focused on meat and milk in the West and in the mountain areas; egg, battery chicken and pork meat intensively produced in Brittany; vine in Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne and Corsica; and market garden produces and fruits in the Rhone valley and in the Mediterranean plains (Hagnerelle 1997: 126).This regional development has however not been homogeneous. In the cereal, fruit and vintage vine regions, 'agri-managers' have contributed to their economic integration into European and global markets. Yet in the South West, regions have been pushed on the fringe of economic sufficiency because of not wide enough holdings and of unprofitable mixed farming.French and European agricultural policies have strongly influenced the various agricultural changes. Under De Gaulle in the very early 1960s, measures aiming to reduce the number of farmers and of holdings lagging behind were taken and did divide the number of farms by almost two in twenty years. Besides the State supported modernisation and yield gains notably through vast irrigation schemes and road works improving the land service.As for price support, the European Common Agricultural Policy began, at the same period, to be in charge of it. During thirty years, the CAP favoured intensive and productive agriculture by guaranteeing the farmers the same minimum price 'irrespective of how much they produced, of world prices, or of prevailing levels of supply and demand' (McCormick 2005: 189). This led to economic dependency, to massive surplus that the European Community had to buy up, and to higher prices for consumers. However in 1992 the CAP underwent a radical reform based on guaranteed price reductions and since 2005 farmers receive a single income support, no matter the amount they produce. The challenge for many farmers is now to adapt themselves to this loss of European subsidies -a task arguably more complex for small farmers with narrow investment possibilities.Internationally the highly competitive environment is another challenge that French agriculture has to face -inside as well as outside the European Union. The 2004 eastward enlargement has indeed brought several cheap labour countries in the customs union in which there are no tariff barriers. Hence a country such as Hungary which exports more than 1M hectolitre of wine each year has become potentially able to rival equally the national actors and thus threatens France's wine economy. Besides Turkey's possible entry in the Union would disrupt the balance of the EU exchanges especially for France -Turkey being notably the 8th wheat producer in the world.In addition to an intra EU menace, France's agriculture has also to solve the problem set by the exchange liberalisation championed by international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Its several negotiation rounds reducing customs barriers between the United Nation countries threaten in many respects the French market. How will French farmers be able to keep competing with countries such as China where the standard of living is six times lower and where consequently a much smaller part of the produce price is dedicated to the farmer's income? The tough international concurrence worsened by the world trading conditions is arguably a current challenge for France to take up.There are however solutions to maintain the French agricultural dynamism. Firstly a quality-orientated farming, although more demanding, is on average more profitable since the competition is more restricted and the margins returning to the producer are higher. Moreover by limiting the number of intermediaries, farmers can offer quality produces that remain competitive on the food market in term of prices (Pitte 2001, 130). Thus disintermediation allows both farmers and consumers to take advantage of better produces obtained in more respectful conditions for the environment as for the human health -e.g. avoiding more groundwater to be polluted by excessive amounts of chemicals.Green tourism could also be a major income complement for French farmers. Rural areas offer indeed preserved landscapes and peaceful stays that mass tourism by definition cannot provide. Besides farmhouse accommodations are arguably a safe way to protect farmers from the uncertain evolution of the agricultural prices and from a tough competition becoming more and more global.To conclude French agriculture has dramatically changed since 1945 in many respects. From basic farming structures with relatively archaic tools, it has moved towards agri-business. Techniques, varieties, managing methods have indeed been improved in order to maximize yields. Holdings are now fewer but on average wider and better integrated to mass commercial channels. They are also much more specialised -as French regions are - and rely less on price support from the CAP since the 1990s. However these claims need to be qualified since a strong dualism exists both among farms and regions. Some are still on the fringe of economic integration because of a lack of previous investment. Consequently the numbers of farmers and holdings have been decreasing sharply -the globalisation of agricultural competition being another factor explaining theses trends. As for the challenges that French agriculture faces nowadays, the recent European changes from price support to income support incite farmers to focus more on quality rather than quantity although, once more, holdings cannot all afford such transformations. Eastward enlargement of the European Union and the intensification of world trade are also two major other challenges that could be, financially speaking, partly faced through green tourism -a potential solution for many farmers to guarantee a minimum income independently of the crops and of markets.Bibliography:* Dallenne, P. (2004). La mondialisation: genèse, acteurs et enjeux, edited by Alain Nonjon and Pierre Dallenne. Paris: Ellipses Editions* Frémy, D.&M. (2000). Quid 2001. Paris: Robert Laffont* Gildea, R. (1996). France since 1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press* Hagnerelle, M. (1997). La France en Europe et dans le monde. Paris: Edition Magnard* McCormick, J. (2005). Understanding the European Union: A Concise Introduction, 3rd edition. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan* Pitte, J.R. (2001). La France, 2nd edition. Paris: Nathan Université


The Changes In The Dutch Society (Especially Multicultural) Since 1945

756 words - 4 pages Hoe ingrijpend is Nederland veranderd sinds 1945Na de feestvreugde van de bevrijding stond de Nederlandse bevolking de zware taak van de wederopbouw te wachten. In de oorlog was het land zwaar beschadigd. Het openbaar vervoer werkte niet meer , installaties en machines van bedrijven waren grotendeels geroofd en brandstof , kleding en levensmiddelen waren schaars.De wederopbouw verliep de wederopbouw in de jaren na de oorlog voorspoedig mede

What Is The Natural Law? What Are Its Principles? How Does It Relate To Positive Laws?

1992 words - 8 pages In order to understand the concept of natural law and its principles it is important to understand what Aquinas sought to achieve with his political philosophies. Prior to Aquinas, the mainstream of Christian political thought had been rooted in faith. Faith, by its very definition is the belief in something for which there is no logical or rational justification for. Since the very concept of religion was based on faith, reason was thought

Romeo And Juliet : Describe The Main Idea In Your Text And Explain What You Learned From It

1188 words - 5 pages "Romeo and Juliet" is an Elizabethan play of tragedy, written by William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet is about two "star-crossed" lovers, of feuding households, who die for the ultimate price of love, and each other. Shakespeare communicates the underlying main idea of love through contrasting the many different forms of love which appear through the play. Various characters in the play talk of love from many different points of view. We are

Assignment On Agriculture Changes the World

571 words - 3 pages weren't migrating after the animals anymore because they started agriculture. If there wasn't any global warming the development of agriculture might not have happened so the people today, wouldn't be able to farm and create all of the farming technology we have today.The people changed from hunter-gatherers to farmers because new lands opened up. The glaciers retreated because there was global warming. Today we have more technology so it is easier

Changing Migration in Australia Since 1945

465 words - 2 pages Australia's migration influx after World War II, in 1945, saw the beginning of yet another immense cultural shift. Immediately after the war ended the Australian government saw our population as being too small to defend itself and began to heavily encourage Australian migration from Europe.Because of the oppression that many Jewish people wished to escape from Germany and other neighboring countries, many began to flock to Australia. With

What Was The Protestant Reformation? Causes And Main Effects

893 words - 4 pages pope of England.Meanwhile, in France yet another reformation was started by a man named John Calvin who had fled to Geneva because the French Monarchy suppressed Protestants. In Geneva, Calvin built a model protestant community where he taught of pre-ordination and outlawed such things as gambling and swearing.In response to the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church began to see the need for change. The changes began to take place

Quasars - what is it and what does it do - Science yr 10 - Research paper

638 words - 3 pages call them quasars when we view it from any side on angle other then perpendicular. In that instance, it is called a radio galaxy. Blazars are viewed when we can see directly the barrel of the jet leaving the nucleus. The word quasar and the acronym QSR stand for ‘quasi-stellar radio source’ (meaning star like) due to their appearance. When quasar jets interact with gas surrounding the galaxy, radio waves are emitted, which can be seen as radio

What Problems Did The Weimar Republic Face Between 1919 And 1923?

529 words - 3 pages The Weimar Republic was formed in the town of Weimar in February 1919 when a new German National Assembly was formed after the war. It was a democracy where everybody could vote. The parliament was called the Reichstag.The Weimar Republic had some enemies from both the left and the right. The opposition from the left came from the Spartakus, a group of communists that hoped to take over the Government, and were representing the workers of

What Are The Main Moral Quandaries In Relation To Moral Relativism? Especially Given Increasing Globalisation, Is Moral Relativism A Suitable Solution To Moral Conflicts Between Cultures?

2101 words - 9 pages morality of acts depends on the context of the act. According to moral absolutism, morals are inherent in the laws of the universe, the nature of humanity, or some other fundamental source. This essay will discuss the main moral quandaries associated with moral relativism. The second part of the essay willThe moral relativist claims that individual acts are right or wrong depending on the nature of the person from which they originate, and that what

Economics of Sweden : the history of how sweden became what it is today. - Econ - essay

1850 words - 8 pages revolution was a period in the 18th and 19th centuries which completely changed how products are manufactured, employment, and quality of life in Great Britain. The industrial revolution was such a change in society at the time it planted the seeds of how we are now in modern days. Innovations in the textile industry are what drove the industrial revolution. Textiles used to be made in people's homes with merchants supplying the raw materials needed to

How does genetic modification in agriculture benefit the food production industry? - Agriculture - year 11 essay

1445 words - 6 pages How does genetic modification in agriculture benefit the food production industry? You may have heard the saying "If you ate today, thank a farmer." Growing up on a farm I assumed that most people understood the importance of agriculture and the contribution it has to the food production industry, but over time I have found that isn't true. In today's world of 7 billion people, the scientific advances in creating sustainable food production at a

Leprosy ; includes what bacteria it is caused by, the orgin of the disease, how many people are affected by it in the united states and in alaska during 1999 and 2000, and more. 3 pages long

524 words - 3 pages Free form is very severe, producing large disfiguring nodules. Tuberculoid os known to cause tuberculosis and lepromatous is known to cause leprosy.The main challenges for Hansen's Disease is elimination efforts are to reach populations that have not yet received multi-drug therapy services, improve detection of the disease, and provide patients with good quality health care, and free medications.Hansen's Disease in the Western Pacific is a

What It Means To Be An American Today

807 words - 4 pages so proud to be an American in today's age and know I am blessed beyond measure. Although there are other countries that are as industrialized and modern as America, we are still unique in many ways. While other countries must face the intolerable acts of a dictator or general we get to elect whom we want to run our country. It is amazing the things we have overcome as a nation that make us who we are. We have built this great nation from

structural changes in the Canadian economy - York university - What caused rise in homelessness in Canada?

598 words - 3 pages What were the structural changes in the Canadian economy and the fundamental shift in social policy that caused rise in homelessness in Canada? When people walk down the street and look around, they do not see different kinds of shops, or performers, but people who are homelessness. Homelessness is a social problem that has always existed and is getting more and more serious in Canada. There are two main reasons for the rise in homelessness

Nature vs Nurture - which plays a major role in shaping what we are today - College/Preschool Degree - Assignment - Book Reflection

556 words - 3 pages been different and shaped their personality accordingly. You can never take nature out of a person entirely but a personality is most defined by the way one is nurtured. I was born in a small village where women generally are not very independent and mostly tend to manage their household. Brought up by my aunt who was a school teacher and very independent women turned me into what I am today; an independent woman who has not only raised a