French financial support for organic farming lagging behind

French organic farmers have been waiting for this financial assistance for over two years. [Shutterstock]

Financial support for French organic farming has accrued more than two years of delays, organic farmers have filed complaints with the French human rights defender and hope that the state will renew the existing cash advances. EURACTIV France’s media partner the Journal de l’environnement reports.

Delays in paying the support due to farmers committed to organic farming seem to go on and on.

A figure of 3% of the financial support for 2015 has not yet been processed and only a third of that for 2016 has been dealt with, according to findings of the French national federation for organic farming (FNAB). The fault for this lies with a computer software programme which only deals with financial support for organic farming.

Organic farming: Europe's south produces, north consumes

Organic farmland in three countries in southern Europe accounts for 44.9% of the total across the EU but when it comes to the consumption of organic products, northern countries top the list.

Complaints filed with the human rights defender

Given that the examination of the cases for 2017 will only start once the 2016 campaign has been completed, FNAB “therefore does not see how” the French government could bring the calendar back to normal by the end of 2018. In other words, by effectively paying all of the financial support for organic farming for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Having repeatedly reported this problem, the federation filed complaints with the French human rights defender on 25 October, in an unprecedented move.

Declining sums

“As entrepreneurs, organic farmers have built their economic models based on the amounts of support announced in 2014. Since then, not only have these amounts reduced and the maintenance support has been removed, but also the outstanding support has not been paid,” warned Guillaume Riou, FNAB president.

“Not only have our farms’ cash flows been severely strained but our opportunities to invest, innovate and develop have been hampered. Who can seriously run a business under these conditions?”

Will the advances be maintained?

FNAB is also requesting that the advances implemented since 2016 be maintained through a system of capped refundable advances (ATR) put in place from 2016. So far, these advances have cushioned the delays in financial support and their impact on farms’ cash flow.

“These advances, which will have to be repaid by producers after the full amount due has been paid, have relieved the economic pressure generated by this situation,” FNAB stated. “It is vital that this system is maintained and that the reimbursements are not claimed so long as the organic support has not been paid.”

Further Reading

Organic farming in the EU needs passion, clear rules and controls

Food security and global peace go hand in hand. The EU's proposed organic food regulation is not perfect, but it is a step towards the sustainable food system we need, write Claude Turmes, José Bové, Molly Scott-Cato, Martin Häusling, Bart Staes and Philippe Lamberts.

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