It is not the first time that Emmanuel Macron inaugurates the Hall of Agriculture, an indispensable appointment for the French political scene. But it is the first time he enters this fair decorated, for the occasion, with portraits of one of his predecessors: Jacques Chirac, who died in 2019 and whom the organizers of the Hall wanted to honor.
Macron toured the 57th edition of this well-known hall for more than eight hours, in which the portraits of Chirac were there, reminding him that his relationship with the local agriculture is not the same as the former president, recently deceased. The current president seems not to generate unanimity in a sector that weighs heavily, even more so in the electoral period.
“It is a difficult relationship, but as it has been for the last three leaders. There is not a big difference between the relationship of the agricultural world that Sarkozy and Hollande had and the one that Macron currently has ”, comments La Razón François Purseigle, sociologist and one of the authors of the book ‘”Le nouveau capitalisme agricole, de la ferme à la firma” (The new agricultural capitalism, From the farm to the company ”- Presses editions of Sciences Po) .
The expert adds, “It is a complex relationship because today’s politicians are not linked to the agricultural world. Contrary to what happened, for example, with Chirac who was deputy for an agricultural region and minister of agriculture, before being president“.
A forced landing
Macron arrived after eight in the morning at the Agricultural Hall, a few hours after the so-called failure in Brussels in the European negotiations, crucial for the French agricultural world. The 27 failed to agree on the 2021-2027 budget of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Paris asks for more, a distribution according to the local reality and the new composition, without Great Britain in its ranks.
370 billion euros is what Brussels offered. A budget that Macron managed to take up to 375 billion. Insufficient figure for French farmers and that neither achieved the consensus of the member countries. “It will not be the CAP that pays for Brexit”, He said, the day before, the president. A phrase celebrated by the representatives of the agricultural sector present at the fair.
“French farmers need government support –Explains the expert François Purseigle-. There are difficulties for the recovery of farms, not everyone has the same resources to face the challenges of the market, etc. The problem is that in Europe there are countries that abandoned agricultural production, especially in the north of the continent, and do not understand the reality of our country” In France, 75% of the national territory is designed by agriculture.
“We are missing answers, Mr. President ”, the farmer was raising a farmer. Answers that Macron knows, he will have to solve for a minority sector, that of farmers, but of political weight in rural areas. Decisive for an electoral contest like the one that is coming up with the municipal elections next March. Especially for a party like the official La República en Marcha, with little implementation in those areas.
French politicians are clear about that weight. For something they have transformed the hall of agriculture into an operation of political communication. “I don’t take care of the agricultural world just the week of the show. Agriculture must be at the heart of modernization ”, the president said.
The origin of the “yellow vests” movement that put the Government in check in 2019 is in these rural and peripheral areas. The emptied France. The president promised yesterday to meet with the “yellow vests” if they manage to organize. “Emmanuel Macron knows that, despite some perception, the French are linked to this rural, agricultural world. In one way or another, many French people have a relationship with that world. Know what when he speaks from the tribune of the Agricultural Hall, he does not only speak to the farmers, but to the entire nation“, the expert François Purseigle tells this newspaper. The figures support it, 9 out of 10 French people have a good opinion of local farmers.
Pesticides, a dossier that makes hives
“There will be no ban without a solution”, Response of President Macron on Saturday when asked about the use of glyphosate.
The use of phytosanitary products and the prohibition of glyphosate in the hexagon from next year, remain subject to friction between agricultural unions and the Government. The flame that lit the fuse: the appearance, in 2019, of a decree that fixes land areas that cannot be treated by pesticides and that, among other things, sets the minimum fumigation distances of 5 to 10 meters of inhabited areas . A measure that several unions in the sector have asked to repeal.
The ban on glyphosate is coming another battle. “It is not easy to change, transform a farm to another system. There are risks. But that does not mean that French farmers are not doing it, or do not want to do it. But if the state does not help this conversion, they cannot alone”, Analyzes François Pursiegle.
The sociologist explains to LA RAZÓN that the mismatch of European policy on this issue also creates complications for local farmers: “There are many initiatives that seek to replace pesticides. But there are giant differences in the use of pesticides in the European Union. There are agricultural sectors in southern Spain that use products that are banned in France. Farmers are confronted with a distortion of competition. There is a European regulation that does not apply in the same way in one country and another“