FRANCE - The French Agriculture Ministry has set out a three pronged attack to restore confidence in the French pig meat sector, following a round table meeting with pig sector representatives, writes Chris Harris.
The government is looking to raise large investment in production, processing and environmental performance.
It also wants to provide opportunities for the industry to change and to better withstand price volatility.
And it wants to give a marketing boost to the French origin designation of its products.
French Agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll has set out plans to modernise livestock farms to make them more competitive and also to improve their environmental performance and their compliance with animal welfare standards.
However, the agriculture minister recognises that this can only be done through continued investment and he sees this being raised by implementing the ICPE –Classified Installations for the Protection of the Environment – criteria.
The minister wants to see improvements in environmental practices to at least the same levels as the requirements laid down by the European Commission, but he said that the sector should not be discouraged from going further.
In order to achieve this, Mr Le Foll has instructed the Ecology Minister Delphine Batho to start consultations with the industry to establish an ICPE registration system for pig farms.
Action on this is expected through a ministerial order by the meeting of states on the environment on 25 and 26 June.
The development of biogas across the country has already been put forward in the EMAA plan that was launched by Stéphane Le Foll and Delphine Batho on 29 March.
Mr Le Foll said that it was essential for the government to support the pig sector which is “an indispensable element in the development of the country”.
It is possible to return to a production level of 25 million pigs while improving the environmental performance of farms. We have started and will continue to develop the tools to achieve this," said Stéphane Le Foll.
As far as the slaughter, cutting and processing sector is concerned the government is putting in place new tools that will support projects to make the sector more competitive, including access to the Public Investment Bank.
The government is also going to make amendments to the Law on the Modernisation of the Economy that will rebalance relations in consumer law with retailers.
It will clarify the scope of negotiations with retailers and the pig sector and introduce a mandatory clause to take into account the wide variations in the cost of feed and agricultural raw materials.
Mr Le Foll said the government had to look at the volatility in the industry objectively and take a lead in the movement of commodity prices.
The ministers have called for discussions between distributors and processors to benefit all the players in the food chain over the difficulties of higher costs.
The government also called for the label of French Country of Origin to become a real asset for the sector and Mr Le Foll said that to achieve this all members of the sector must engage with voluntary country of origin labelling.
He added that it was necessary to build a framework of specification for the sector – VPF (Viande Porcine Française).
Minister Guillaume Garrot said: “The major challenge for the pig industry is the battle for value added.
“It will be born out of a dialogue between the links in the chain.
“It is essential to build in value at the slaughter stage and also to use certification of French Country of Origin.
Pictured: Stéphane Le Foll (centre) and Guillaume Garrot(second right) at the pig sector round table.