29 April 1998
France proposes radical action to save countryside

THE French Government is preparing to reverse decades of policy in an attempt to stop the mass exodus from its countryside and improve the rural environment.

A proposed framework law says policies of the future should be based on environmental and social, as well as economic considerations.

Farmers would be encouraged to take out “contracts” with the state; the level of their subsidies would depend on their contribution to preserving nature, the creation of jobs and improvement of food quality. Farm subsides would no longer be automatic, nor designed to encourage greater output.

Under the framework, Government would also create new planning procedures to discourage the swallowing up of smaller, family-size farms into agro-industrial behemoths.

The number of farms in France has declined from 3 million to 700,000 in 30 years. Up to 200,000 more are expected to disappear in the next 20 years.

  • The Independent 29/04/98 page 9