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“A very bad idea”: the establishment of floor prices for farmers decried by part of the opposition

It is an issue that divides politicians, but also agricultural professionals.

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“A very bad idea”: the establishment of floor prices for farmers decried by part of the opposition

It is an issue that divides politicians, but also agricultural professionals. Is the introduction of “European floor prices” in the sectors really a good idea? For Emmanuel Macron, present at the Agricultural Show on Saturday, these prices “will make it possible to protect agricultural income and not give in to all the most predatory practices which today are sacrificing our farmers and their income”.

Shortly after this announcement, La France insoumise was quick to tip the hat to its party, which had already tabled a similar proposal in the National Assembly. François Ruffin, deputy for the Somme, specifies on X (ex-Twitter) that “for six years, we have been demanding it from the National Assembly. Very alone, at first, then winning over the minds, the Macronists and the right who resisted. This is the big choice today, for everything and everywhere, medicine, housing, electricity, let the market take its course or regulate it, regulate it, hinder it? For Jean-Luc Mélenchon, “the struggle pays off. She keeps. We must block the profit margins of the agri-food industry.”

But for the Minister of Agriculture, invited this Sunday morning on CNews, the government's proposal differs from that of LFI: "LFI's proposal was: floor price, fixing of margins, price control by the government, not exactly what we said yesterday. “LFI proposed, if I remember correctly, the fact that at the start of the year, the government decides on a fixed price, for example the price of milk is 1.20 euros per liter (for consumers) , that’s something of the Soviet system.” Olivia Grégoire, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, also denounced measures last year reminiscent of “Cuba or the Soviet Union with the successes we know of them”. “You do that in 2022, at the start of the year you don’t have the war in Ukraine, you say that the price is 1.20 euros and then we don’t take inflationary issues into account,” points out Marc Fesneau.

The government thus wishes to “work on something within our borders [...] and bring it up to the European level”. This floor price “must be based on the production costs” of producers, according to the Minister of Agriculture. “It is not because the fight is difficult that it should not be fought,” adds Marc Fesneau, in a confident tone. But for the other parties, in particular the right, this fight should be forgotten, if we are to believe the president of the Republicans, Bruno Retailleau: “It is a very bad idea promoted in particular by LFI [which has] two traps: it will be a universal agricultural minimum income, a socialist idea, and the floor price will become a market price in Egalim (the law which governs producers' income, Editor's note). In the diversity of regions and farms, the gaps will widen. We walk on the head !"

An observation shared by other specialists, such as Christian Gollier, director of Toulouse School of Economics: “The floor price is above all a boon for large farmers, especially if it is estimated at the average cost of small farms. Ineffective productivist policy par excellence. How can the left support this?” For Philippe Goetzmann, mass distribution expert, “a floor price guarantees a price, a piece of paper. It has never guaranteed a volume, which is what makes the turnover: “Price times volume”. A floor price when we are not competitive is the guarantee of a fall in volumes, so the choice is [we will achieve] the end of agriculture or the closing of borders.”

Others wonder about the calculation of this floor price. “The risk is that there are as many floor prices as there are types of breeding. We see this with the beef sectors. Within the framework of the Egalim law, contracting with companies is difficult because the sectors have not agreed on the criteria for production costs,” reports Anne-Catherine Loisier, centrist senator from Côte d’Or, to Le Parisien. . For Sébastien Poutreau, cereal grower and administrator of the FNSEA, “it starts with a good intention but it will quickly become window dressing. How do we set this floor price? Between a milk producer who farms in the mountains and another in the plains, the costs are not the same. Which one do we choose?” The question is simple to resolve for Anne-Catherine Loisier: “If the administered prices are too high compared to international ones, we will no longer export. And imports will increase.

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