We like to repeat in the corridors of the rue de Varenne, at the Ministry of Agriculture, this Norman saying that the Minister Stéphane Travert particularly likes: “it is at the end of the fair that the dung is counted”. Good thing, it is today December 21 that the general states of the food end, which had been opened on July 20 last. And when it comes time to take stock, everyone is obliged to recognize that this long and vast consultation, which has sometimes turned into a rat race, is a great success. Breaking with years of polemics which sometimes amounted to a dialogue of the deaf, farmers, manufacturers and distributors all agree to stop lowering prices. Everyone, including Leclerc, recognizes that we must stop offering ever lower food prices to consumers and are committed to ensuring fair remuneration for farmers.
These states-general, which appeared in the program of Macron’s presidential candidate, should remain as a successful example of consultation and dialogue. Even before knowing what the concrete results will be for farmers’ incomes and whether the resulting reforms will be sufficient for agricultural France, for once not to be the poor relation of the emerging economic recovery, the method has proven.
After a phase of dialogue in workshops where all the actors were forced to confront their arguments, Emmanuel Macron in person picked up their copies on October 12 and urged everyone, in his Rungis speech to go further still. All the protagonists, including the most recalcitrant, were asked to sign a charter of commitments. “Stéphane Travert himself had to call Michel-Edouard Leclerc on his cell phone to convince him to come and sign this text, because he weighs 20% of the cast and is not a member of the FCD which brings together most of his competitors, ”explains one participant.
The Minister of Agriculture had also given until December 15 to the agricultural representatives so that they could make proposals to him concerning the establishment of producer organizations (PO), groupings by regions of production and by types of products, capable of to negotiate and enter into contracts with the purchasing centers of large-scale distribution. “We were surprised to see extremely relevant proposals arriving very quickly,” the ministry said.
Determined to consolidate this constructive spirit and to curb any excess during the annual commercial negotiations which were held at the end of the year, the Minister summoned the distributors whom he suspected of not playing along, and who had been notified to him. for their demands for price reductions of 2 to 7%. “He asked them to explain themselves and managed to avoid the worst,” says a person close to the file.
After consultation, action
In short, despite the clashes and disagreements but also thanks to the consensus that finally emerged, the government considers that the consultation phase has indeed taken place and that it can therefore now, as it did for the reform of the code. labor, legislate by ordinance. The idea is to move on to the next phase as quickly as possible to capitalize on this peaceful climate and obtain effects on farmers’ incomes as quickly as possible. “It would be ideal if we could organize the signing of agreements between POs, manufacturers and distributors during the Agricultural Show next March”, one dreams of rue de Varenne. All this under the victorious gaze of the President of the Republic, who like his predecessors intends to make his visit to the largest farm in France, a highlight of his relationship with rural France. To this end, an enabling law could be voted in January or February, allowing the publication of the ordinances in the wake.
Every day counts because at a time when many signs seem to attest to an improvement in the French economy, the government wishes to demonstrate that it is capable of involving farmers in this optimistic climate, while they have been systematically excluded from it. since many decades.