22 June 2001

French launch own crop assurance programme

Frances biennial equivalent to Cereals, Les Culturales

took place at Boigneville, south of Paris, last week.

Andrew Swallow paid a visit to bring you a flavour of the

management advice and Gallic agronomy on offer. As he

soon found out, he was not the only one to make the trip…

THREE years after crop assurance hit the headlines in the UK, France has launched a programme to compete.

But the Charte de Production, or Production Charter, will cost French growers nothing. Even the charge to the co-ops, through which the scheme is operated, will be only about 10% of a large English cereal farms ACCS subscription for each grower registered.

"The cost corresponds to the documentation and training needed only," says Guislaine Veron-Delor of French feed technology research institute, iRTAC. "There is no charge to the producer."

Instead, ITCF sells the Charte de Production to the co-operatives. Each co-op must appoint an individual who is trained by ITCF to administer the scheme and must inspect at least 10% of its Charte de Production members every year. The remainder complete self-assessment forms, which the co-op then pass or fail. ITCF in turn inspects the co-ops.

"They have to be able to split grain for the Charte if they are to be authorised to use the logo."

A proliferation of quality demands from end users and export demand for some form of assurance led to ITCF and iRTAC setting up the Charte.

To achieve the Charte, growers must follow best practice in all areas of production – soil management, fertiliser use, irrigation, crop protection and harvesting and handling, says Mrs Veron-Delor.

It also includes environmental concerns, unlike the UKs ACCS, says ITCFs Luc Lescar.

Since its launch in February, 35 co-ops, covering about 3000 producers, have signed up.

What area of crop that includes is not known, admits Mrs Veron-Delor. But there are about 1000 agricultural co-ops and 640,000 farmers in France, though not all are arable, she says.

CHARTE TARGETS

&#8226 Ensure competitive cereal production.

&#8226 Allow quality to meet diverse market demands.

&#8226 Produce grain to hygiene laws and recommendations.

&#8226 Take into account environmental protection.

&#8226 Provide records or proof of best practice.