Jean Charles Renaudat

12 April 2002

Jean Charles Renaudat

Jean Charles Renaudat

farms 560ha (1384 acres)

of brash land 300km south

of Paris. Continuous wheat

has recently been

replaced by a wide-range

of combinable crops

WHILE it is a busy time on the farm, this month I feel I must relay our experiences of modulation here in France because I understand your industry is facing similar proposals.

French area subsidy modulation was supposed to be a justice tool, similar to those used by your Robin Hood – steal from the rich, typically the nasty cereal growers, to help the poor.

The principle is to fill a money box with the withdrawn subsidies from which "good" farmers could apply for funds for rural, social or environmental projects of common interest under a CTE or farm territorial contract.

Rates of modulation on our area subsidies go from 0% for the smaller farms up to 20 % for the biggest with many complicated calculations in between.

For example, the more people the farm employs, the lower the modulation rate/ha. But the opposite is the case if you are a highly efficient farmer with a large area and a small staff.

The results are crazy. Efficient farms with a low workforce are now unprofitable due to the combined effect of modulation and low commodity prices. The wage of a man is still bigger than the modulation you save by employing him so farms are shrinking staff further to try to become still more efficient.

Whats more, the farms that suffer worst are those that can least afford it because they are on low to medium quality soils where you cant grow intensive, high labour requirement crops.

The only levers such farmers can push to counter modulations impact is to cut staff and farm more land to spread costs further – the exact opposite of the original goal. I also believe this new tax distorts competition within the EU.

Two years after the start of modulation, the number of beneficiaries is lower than the number of victims. Every CTE signed needs four days of training and a huge amount of red tape.

Friends in the UK – if you can, steer clear of modulation! &#42

Beware modulation, there are more victims than beneficiaries, says French farmer Jean-Charles Renaudat.

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