The government’s announcements were eagerly awaited by organic producers often discouraged. The Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneauannounced on Wednesday that a “crisis envelope” of 60 million euros would be released to help them get through an unprecedented period of difficulty with supply exceeding demand.
To stimulate purchases, the Minister has pledged that canteens under the responsibility of the State (ministries, prisons, armies) will reach the target of 20% organic in their menus by the end of the year: “We will start by setting an example ourselves”, he declared from a farm in the Oise.
The Food Law (or Egalim, 2018) had set for 2022 the principle of a minimum of 20% organic in the menus of collective catering (school canteens, hospitals). But “we did not put the means” financial to do so, according to a source at the ministry. The share of organic is capped at around 6%.
A consequence of inflation
The market for organic products began to turn around in 2021 after years of double-digit growth, which had boosted conversions to this type of agriculture without pesticides or synthetic chemical fertilizers.
But consumers, squeezed by inflation (+15% over one year in April for food), are turning away from organic in favor of cheaper alternatives. L’an der, announced Wednesday that a “crisis envelope” of 60 million euros would be released to help them get through an unprecedented period of difficulty with a supply that exceeds demand.
A first “emergency aid” to organic farmers, of ten million euros, had been recorded at the Agricultural Show at the end of February. The sum, presented by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to agricultural professionals during a closed session, had been deemed “anecdotal” or even “contemptuous” by organizations.
Barely elected president of the majority agricultural union FNSEA, Arnaud Rousseau called in mid-April for a “mive plan”, of “50 to 100 million euros”, for organic producers who “are going through an unprecedented crisis”. The Court of Auditors had estimated in June 2022 that “the policy of support for organic farming carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture has ambitious objectives, without the allocation of sufficient means”.
“Slowdown” on farm conversions
In 2022, 5,245 new organic producers were identified, compared to 7,706 in 2021, according to the Agence bio. At the same time, 3,380 organic exits were counted, compared to 2,510 in 2021. The balance between incoming and outgoing “still remains positive but reflects a real brake on the dynamics of conversions”, noted the agency in April . In 2019, organic agricultural land jumped by 25%.
She regretted that “far too often producers wanting to switch to organic farming in 2022 found themselves held back by market players arguing that the market was no longer there to welcome them, due to a lack of consumer demand”.