Organic farming: a welcome but insufficient emergency fund for the Gers sector

the essential
An endowment of 173,000 euros will be allocated to organic farmers in the Gers in difficulty, as part of an emergency fund set up by the government. For the profession, this appreciable aid has not yet lived up to expectations.

It’s always taken. This is essentially what the organic farming sector has to tell itself when it comes to receiving state aid. In recent weeks, an “organic emergency fund” of 10 million euros was thus released “following the difficulties of the sector (…) in connection with the war in Ukraine and the drop in consumption”, as indicated by the prefecture of the Gers in a press release published on Wednesday 17 May.

For the Gers precisely, which is one of the leading organic territories in France, the prefecture announces an envelope of 173 thousand euros. Too small an amount to fairly and significantly benefit the approximately 1,500-1,600 organic producers identified in the department. “It’s quite a complex issue when there is a large sum nationally. Once the ballot is done, we end up with a hundred euros per farmer, which is an absolutely ridiculous figure,” notes Bertrand Bortoloni, organic cereal grower in Saint-Paul de Baïse and treasurer of the Organic and Biodynamic Farmers Group (Les Bios du Gers – GABB 32).

“Buy Pet Food”

Rather than addressing all organic producers, the emergency fund will therefore be allocated to operators most in difficulty, “at risk of conversion or even bankruptcy”, as specified by the prefecture. The 173,000 euros will be “divided among the eligible practices with the possible application of priority criteria”. To receive this aid* you must in particular have a total professional income of less than 32,000 euros in 2021 (equal to 2 minimum wages) and a total turnover loss between 2021 and 2022 of 35%.

The Gers is one of the main organic departments in France.

For the beneficiaries of the emergency fund, the contribution will obviously be invaluable in a difficult economic, health and climatic context, marked by the war in Ukraine of course, but also by drought and, more recently, by the return as virulent as it was unexpected bird flu. “For those without forage, it can allow them to buy enough to feed the animals”, agrees Bertrand Bortoloni, who was able to participate in the upstream discussions on the establishment of the emergency fund with the departmental directorate of the territories. (DDT) and agricultural organizations. However, the GABB 32 Treasurer is aware that the fund will only reach a limited number of people. “We have to make it clear to more than 1,500 farmers that there may only be around fifty who will be helped,” he stresses.

“Large and medium sized shops always have the upper hand”

Beyond the punctuality and limitedness of these government aids, the industry above all expects stricter regulations from the government in favor of organic agriculture. “The Egalim law imposes certain percentages in collective catering, local products, short circuit. I think that at some point we may have to control and sanction those who do not put themselves on this scale. Why should the farmer suffer and not the large and medium supermarkets (GMS )? GMS always comes out victorious in this”, sighs Bertrand Bortoloni.

For the treasurer of GABB 32 it is therefore time to change gears to reach the goal of 20% organic at the end of the year in state-run canteens, a goal set by minister Marc Fesneau, who has just also announced a 200 million euro plan in support of the sector. “The public authorities will have to give themselves the means, and when they want they can, to tell supermarkets: 75% of your organic sales must be made with local and national products”, he concludes.

Applications must be submitted by Wednesday 7 June 2023 inclusive. They are only done online via the teleprocedure:

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