France

France is the world’s most popular tourist destination. It’s capital Paris is home to iconic tourist sites, the Effiel tower, the Lourve museum, the arc de Triomphe, and the champs de elysse . These are a must see when travelling through the country. Paris is also the second most important location in the world for headquarters of the world’s 500 largest companies and trade organisations, including the OECD.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

The OECD provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. They work with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change. They measure productivity and global flows of trade and investment, analyse and compare data to predict future trends and set international standards on a wide range of things, from agriculture and tax to the safety of chemicals.

While in Paris, we had a meeting at the OECD and discussed the role of the organisation. We also discussed reports including the recently released outlook report, looking at the effects of current trends within developed countries. We discussed the producer support estimate (PSE) manual and the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) report which looks at emerging economies. However the latter is hard to estimate as the Indian government doesn’t work with the organisation. The producer support estimate manual can be viewed online at http://www.oecd.org/agriculture/PSE. After our meeting the decision of the French government to supply producer supports became clearer as to why they are providing support for people to remain in country areas.

As a result of the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), France is undertaking reforms to reduce payments through the supply management arrangements into the future. Currently the French agricultural sector receives almost €11 billion in European Union (EU) Subsidies.

France is among one of the largest agricultural exporters in the world and a major agricultural power in the EU, accounting for 16% of all its agricultural land. The destination of 49% of French exports are to other EU member states, although they also provide agricultural exports to many of the poor African countries (including its former colonies) which face serious food shortages.

France is the only country in Europe to be self-sufficient in basic food production. Agricultural production is characterised into regions with cereal cropping to the North of France. Dairy, pork, poultry and apple production are concentrated to the western regions. Beef production is located in central regions while fruit, vegetables and wine regions range from central to southern France.

The high quality of agricultural products have created a competitive advantage and global reputation which also contribute to the excellence of its famous cuisine. Among these are some of the world’s most renowned agricultural products such as wine, bread and cheese.

French farmers are leading the world in terms of value adding their produce with one fourth of all farms using a quality brand and eighteen percent selling their products via a short supply chain or directly from the farm.

Our visits were clear examples of this, with a vegetable grower building his own equipment and sheds to produce fresh beans straight to supermarkets. An orchardist diversifying into ciders and expanding his business considerably in the last five years, selling 70% on a contract bases to improve cash flow. Egg and poultry producers selling produce direct into restaurants and markets in Paris, a dairy producer making his own cheese and selling it direct from the farm and a turf producer also selling direct from farm. Our other visits involved producers selling through co-operatives with grain, potatoes and milk.

Agriculture in France employs close to 1 million people on 490 000 farms with an average farm size of 100 hectares.

In terms of Australian agriculture, there are lessons to be learnt in branding products and selling direct to market, however it has to be kept in mind, France has a huge population at its door step with close export opportunities. As a lamb producer, France’s sheep population is decreasing and opportunities are being created to supply high quality lamb into this market of fine dining cuisine. Particularly as a lamb roast is a tradition around Easter.

France also defines my global focus tour, as it was here we got to experience a night off and go to Le Mans 24 hour car race. My whole tour is now defined as pre and post Le Mans. Magnificent.

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