The typical French farmer varies in terms of farm size and the products they produce yearly. France has a diverse agricultural landscape, ranging from small family-owned farms to large-scale operations. Farm sizes in France can range from a few hectares to several hundred hectares, depending on the region and type of farming; however, the average farm size is around 69 hectares.
French farm products are diverse and depend on the region; however, France is known for its production of cereals (wheat, barley, corn), oilseeds (rapeseed, sunflower), fruits (apples, grapes, cherries), vegetables (potatoes, carrots, lettuce), dairy products, meat (beef, pork, poultry), and wine.
To produce these foods, French farmers use traditional and modern methods employing advanced machinery, precision agriculture techniques, and sustainable practices to optimise crop yields and minimise environmental impact.
However, French farmers face numerous challenges due to climate change, including extreme weather events, changing rainfall patterns, and increased pest and disease pressures. To adapt to these changes, they are employing various strategies and techniques such as:
- Crop diversification: Farmers are diversifying their crop choices to reduce their reliance on specific crops that may be more vulnerable to climate change impacts. This helps to spread the risk of crop failure and maintain productivity.
- Precision agriculture: Farmers are adopting precision agriculture techniques, such as using sensors and data analytics, to optimise resource use (water, fertilisers, pesticides) and improve crop yields.
- Agroforestry: Integrating trees into agricultural landscapes helps reduce soil erosion, improve water management, and enhance biodiversity. Agroforestry systems also provide additional income sources for farmers.
- Improved water management: Farmers are implementing water-efficient irrigation systems and techniques, such as drip irrigation, to cope with changing rainfall patterns and ensure efficient water use.
- Soil conservation practices: Conservation agriculture techniques, such as minimum tillage, cover cropping, and soil mulching, are being adopted to enhance soil health, reduce erosion, and improve resilience to climate change impacts.
- Farm-level energy production: Some farmers invest in renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels or wind turbines, to reduce their carbon footprint and generate additional income.
To support French farmers in adapting to climate change, technical assistance and support is required in the following areas:
- Access to climate information: Farmers need accurate and localised climate forecasts and tools to interpret and apply this information to their farming practices.
- Research and innovation: Continuous research and innovation are essential to develop new farming techniques, crop varieties, and technologies more resilient to climate change.
- Financial support: Farmers need financial assistance to invest in new technologies, infrastructure, and equipment for climate change adaptation.
- Training and education: Providing farmers with training and education on climate-smart practices and techniques can help them adopt new approaches more effectively.
- Policy support: Supportive policies incentivising climate change adaptation and providing a conducive regulatory environment can encourage farmers to make necessary changes.
Currently, farmers in France are making only moderate progress in their ability to adapt how they farm to climate change. This rating of B= moderate progress on a scale of A=Excellent Progress, B=Moderate Progress, and C=Standing Still is because farmers are currently suffering more than adapting at the hands of climate change.
The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and heatwaves, have negatively impacted agricultural production in France and caused significant damage to crops, livestock, and infrastructure, leading to financial losses, increased debt and psychological distress among farmers. In addition to climate change, farmers in France are grappling with the effects of inflation as the rising prices of inputs, such as fertilisers, seeds, and machinery, have significantly increased production costs. Despite persistent calls for support and assistance from farmers’ unions and agricultural organisations, the government still needs financial aid, insurance programs, and long-term strategies to help farmers adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard France Country Manager Liana Mehring
Learn More References
FERNANDEZ, Beatriz GUIMAREY. “Climate Change Opportunities for Agriculture in France.” EIP-AGRI – European Commission, 27 Aug. 2019, ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/en/find-connect/projects/climate-change-opportunities-agriculture-france.html.
Panorama de l’agriculture, et de La Pêche – Educagri.Fr, portailcoop.educagri.fr/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/220609_PanoramaAgriculture_FR.pdf. Accessed 17 Aug. 2023.
Bordenet, Camille. “‘We Don’t Even Have Time to Take a Breath’: French Farmers Struggle with the Effects of Climate Change and Inflation.” Le Monde.Fr, Le Monde, 17 July 2022, www.lemonde.fr/en/france/article/2022/07/17/we-don-t-even-have-time-to-take-a-breath-french-farmers-struggle-with-the-effects-of-climate-change-and-inflation_5990412_7.html.