Preserving the environment
Of increasing concern to the general public and the consumer, the environment is central to the practices and investments of the agribusiness sector. Public policy in this area is ambitious and has set a number of specific goals, which draw heavily on research. Recognising that greater respect for the environment and animal welfare contributes to the sustainability of their activities and the long-term satisfaction of the needs of their fellow citizens, farmers and manufacturers, supported by government, are increasingly choosing to get involved in this critical issue.
An ambitious policy
A genuine process of reflection concerning ecology, development and sustainable development took place in France in 2007 under the Grenelle Environment Forum. This unprecedented event brought together national and local government, non-governmental organizations, farmers, unions and businesses. An action plan with twenty concrete and quantifiable measures was laid out, involving the broadest possible consensus among participants.
An initiative by the French President of the Republic, the "Objectif Terres 2020" (2020 Land Objective) has built a coherent strategic vision out of the range of agricultural action plans to emerge from the Grenelle Environment Forum. Agriculture must now both produce more to meet the needs of the population of 9 billion anticipated by 2050 and produce better to preserve natural resources and biodiversity. To meet these urgent twin purposes, there is a need to develop sustainable agriculture. Such is the ambition of this comprehensive plan for a new French agricultural model based on innovative approaches which is currently being instituted by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries.
Objectif Terres 2020: towards a new model for French agriculture!
5 challenges in valuing natural resources
- better use of increasingly rare water
- contributing to restoring the ecological quality of water
- contributing to the richness of our biodiversity and landscapes
- protecting agricultural soils
- better harnessing of energy and combating global warming
5 pathways to a new form of agriculture
- reducing the use and impact of pesticides
- involving each and every agricultural business in sustainable development
- developing the potential of organic agriculture
- placing agronomy once more at the heart of agriculture
- rethinking appropriate practices for each region
French farmers are attempting as far as possible to rationalise their activities and strictly comply with the latest laws in national agricultural policy in order to meet society's new expectations, including the preservation of the environment and harmonious use of rural areas. They wish to implement good agricultural practices (hermetic storage of fertiliser on farms, reasonable and limited use of pesticides and irrigation) in order to preserve water resources and avoid pollution.
Appraisal of energy use on farms is becoming more widespread (100,000 diagnoses in the next 3 years) in order to control the direct consumption of energy (tractors, greenhouses, barns...) and of inputs. The goal: to reach 30% of agricultural businesses with low energy dependence by 2013.
Ecophyto 2018: 50% reduction in the use of pesticides!
The plan (with an estimated budget of more than 200 million Euros over the period 2009-2011) reflects France's commitment to reduce the use of pesticides by 50% by 2018. 30 dangerous molecules used in 1500 products were withdrawn in late 2008 and 10 additional substances will be withdrawn in late 2010.
For sustainable and responsible fisheries!
To enable French fisheries to meet the challenges ahead, the government has decided to step up its activities with the implementation of the Plan for Sustainable and Responsible Fisheries (310 million euros over 3 years) designed to promote better management of fishing resources and enhance the quality of marine ecosystems.
Aware that their activities can be harmful to the environment, food companies are also undertaking concrete actions to minimise their impact. Their budgets devoted to the sustainable improvement of their environmental performance are continually increasing. They are undergoing ISO14001 certification in order to better manage environmental issues related to their sectors. They are pursuing their efforts to develop still further the eco-design quality and quantity of their packaging and offer a concrete action plan for prevention and recycling of waste.