First it was the milk producers; now it’s the turn of cereal farmers to take to the streets in protest against a loss in income and the progressive dismantling of the CAP. Some 10,000 farmers, bolstered by 1,300 tractors, led a demonstration in Paris on Tuesday, April 27. They demand, amongst other things, a return to export subsidiaries so that they can sell off part of their production before the next harvest.
This demonstration, more than any other, showed the brutality and gravity of the crisis with which the agricultural sector is currently hit. For a long time, cereal farmers were the best off in the entire industry, with larger, more concentrated and more competitive farms than those working in other sectors. For example, in 2007, the average income of cereal farmers increased by over 100%, whereas that of livestock farmers decreased (by 25% for cattle farmers, 32% for sheep farmers and 38% for pig farmers). The difference in income was so great that in 2009, at the height of the crisis affecting dairy and fruit farmers, the then Minister for Agriculture, Michel Barnier, decided to redistribute €1.4 billion worth of CAP subsidiaries from large-scale cereal producers to the affected sectors.
Today, just as livestock farmers and milk producers, cereal producers are financially battered and face a drastic drop in their income (25% to 50%) following the decrease in prices on international markets (down 24% in 2009) as well as an increase in production costs. This situation confirms, if the political decision-makers weren’t yet convinced of such, the necessity to put in place structural measures to stabilize the agricultural sector and ensure the security of food production in France and the European Union.