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France: new Minister for Organic Conversion
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The minister responsible for agriculture in the cabinet of new French President, Emmanuel Macron, is on the side of organic. Macron appointed Jacques Mezard as Minister of Agriculture, a man committed to the environment and an opponent of genetic engineering. Nicolas Hulot will be the Minister for Organic Conversion.
In the election campaign Macron had said he was in favour of a diverse system of agriculture. In his view, France can have productive agriculture, oriented to exporting, with mass production and competitive prices, but also with small organic farms that focus mainly, but not exclusively, on local consumption. In his opinion, there should be support for both models in national and EU agricultural policy.
He spoke in favour of free trade agreements, provided that they ensure fair competition between the trading partners. In June a forum for producers, processors, traders and consumers will be held whose aim is to secure higher revenue for producers.
The issues addressed by his priorities and his vision for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and France's domestic agricultural policy include:
- retaining the EU agriculture budget and expenditure at the current level
- investing 5 billion euros in farms and food processing facilities, including 200 million euros specifically for producers who invest in environment-related projects
- reducing the amount of pesticides when there are alternatives that could be used;
- supporting investment by producers in environmental protection
- facilitating the formation of new producer groups
- reducing regulations and restrictions on agriculture