From the 24-26th August, the Agricultural College of Laval in the west of France held the first national gathering of agriculture for vibrant rural areas, attended by farmers, NGO representatives, citizens and scientists.
More than 500 people responded to the invitation launched by Accueil paysan, AFIP, Amis de la Confédération paysanne, Confédération paysanne, FADEAR, FNAB, FNCIVAM, MODEF and MRJC. These national organisations represent the French agri-rural networks that promote concrete alternatives in front of agrifood business.
Two ministers also attended the gathering: Stéphane Le Foll and Guillaume Garot. Minister of Agriculture in France, Le Foll – in charge of agriculture, forestry and obviously the CAP reform – told the participants that the key issue for a paradigm shift in agriculture was not strict targets that cannot be reached. Taking the pesticide reduction example, he stressed the need to rethink the farming models alongside with the farmers. Garot, Deputy Minister of agrifood called for a genuine food democracy based on social justice, the fight against waste and speculation on commodities.
The gathering issued a range of proposals including the conquest of food sovereignty, the control of farmland, the promotion and creation of a new co-operation among farmers and processors, the rethinking of food aid, the farmers participation in the energy transition and finally a fairer distribution of public funds.
Concluding the gathering, the Laval calling stated: “We reject the development of agriculture and rural areas that lead to economic, social and environmental impoverishment and which have no other purpose than to concentrate the food production, processing and wealth. We call on all those who recognize themselves in our project, organizations, farmers, citizens, to join us to build together farmers promising areas for living.”