In the Lot-et-Garonne, “organic” agriculture stays the course in the storm

the essential
No fatalism with Irène Carrasco, president of the organization Agrobio 47. However, the economic climate remains a brake.

Agrobio 47 manages the interests of the organic farming sector in the Lot-et-Garonne. Its members meet in a general assembly this Thursday 16 in Montpezat. This is not the time for champagne, but its president, Irène Carrasco, defends the values ​​of “organic”.

1. State of progress

Lot-et-Garonne is the 3rd department of New Aquitaine by number of farms that have chosen organic farming, i.e. 1,070 farms in 2022 (18% of the total). The average useful agricultural area (UAA) is 36 hectares. One in three new farms is in conversion. For 71% of established farmers, the choice fell on horticulture, mainly in the open field. 70 new “organic” farms in 2022. “The plants remain dynamic in the department” observes Irène Carrasco.
On the other hand, the other side of the scene is cloudy. Agrobio 47 observes cases of “deconversion”, i.e. farmers who have chosen organic farming and are now backtracking. “This mainly concerns arable land,” says its president. “Many conventional farmers went there for the economy. We have to go back to talking about a real organic dynamic. »

2. Context

What is nationally valid is not in the Lot-et-Garonne, but the department feels this reflux. Less enthusiasm for products labeled as organic. “It is undeniable and the economic situation for three years has explained it: Covid, the war in Ukraine, inflation, but above all I stress the multiplication of labels. The consumer no longer knows where he is. It should also be said that large-scale distribution has adapted to the current market by reducing the space on the shelves (the shelves, ed) for organic farming products. The declines in sales are general and we are, it is true, at the bottom of the wave. »
According to the manager of Agrobio, no commercial impact on direct sales. The decline is instead felt among producers who have opted for large-scale distribution and intermediaries. The flourishing of specialty stores may have something to do with this economic downturn.

3. The future

“In ten years it could be a disaster if we don’t find the true values ​​of organic farming,” admits Irène Carrasco. “We need to talk about climate resilience, living beings, we need to remember the basics of organic farming without conventional treatment products. »
The president of Agrobio 47 – it is in her nature – wants to remain optimistic. “The need must find its place in the sector. You need the taste. Carrots calibrated the same way and labeled organic, I say no. We must renew the generations and maintain this appetite of young people who are satisfied with organic farming. During the general assembly we will have eighty farmers and I assure you that none of them want to go back to conventional agriculture because they are proud of the values ​​they carry since they left conventional agriculture. »

4. How?

It will be a matter of communication with the consumer, to tell him again that “we are agroecology. Agrobio 47 wants to compete for the rebirth in a department that has finally seen the reconversion well, with its partners. «I don’t always agree with them, but the dynamic we want also involves the Chamber of Agriculture. They want peasants, and so do we. »

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