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French Farming Incomes Increase in 2006

Tuesday 20 February 2007

French farmers saw their incomes rise last year by 15%, for the first time in eight years, according to figures published recently by the French National Statistics Office, INSEE.

Incomes went up mainly because of a shortfall in the production of agricultural produce due to drought conditions in the summer of 2006, which brought about price increases.

Fruit growers and cereal crop growers benefited the most, with both gaining an increase in prices averaging 34%.

However, it was not a good year for everyone, with poultry farmers suffering a small decline incomes and many wine growers in real crisis as a result of a glut of wine on the world markets.

The average decrease for wine growers producing ordinary wine for everyday drinking was over 30%, whilst those producing «appellation controlée» wines saw their incomes decline by an average of 10%.

In response to the crisis in the wine sector the government increased their support last year for export marketing, as well as financial assistance towards converting surplus wine into industrial alcohol, and local rate relief.

Farmers were also offered support to come out of the industry, although it does not seem many have taken up the offer.

Although agricultural production within France has doubled since 1960, even French farming is in decline.

In the last 50 years the workforce has reduced from over 2 million to around 500,000, and last year it accounted for only 2% of gross national product, down from 5% in 1978 (due mainly to the decline in prices). The land surface occupied by agriculture was 60%, down from 72% in 1950.

Farmers in France obtain 65% of their revenue through support from the European Union, a figure that rises to 80% once start-up and investment support is included. The total sum in French farming support amounted last year to nearly €10 billion.

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