The sum is substantial and illustrates, in itself, the importance of the crisis that organic farming is going through. Thursday, April 6, the Brittany region announced that it had released an additional 5.5 million euros to help its organic farmers. A sum raised thanks to the mobilization of “European and regional funds”, which brings the total amount of aid to the sector to 11 million over two years.
Will it be sufficient? It will not be enough, on its own, to save an entire sector in crisis. But it should allow committed producers to “pass the course”, hopes the president of the region Loïg Chesnais-Girard.
First French agricultural region, Brittany is also a land of agribusiness, where the “conventional” is still very powerful. Forced to begin its transition to a more virtuous model, the region has seen thousands of farms convert to organic farming in recent years. In 2022, 40% of new installations were under the organic label. With this aid, the region wants to avoid the phenomenon of “deconversions”, which pushes professionals to return to conventional agriculture that is less expensive to produce but less virtuous from an environmental point of view. “Support for organic farmers is essential”, assures the elected socialist.
In 2022, the organic food market suffered a 7 to 10% decline in turnover, leading to numerous store closures in networks, such as Biocoop. Inflation and the war in Ukraine have a lot to do with it. “In 2020, during the confinements, we felt that people aspired to healthier and local consumption and turned to direct sales. But this parenthesis has closed and people are now watching their wallets”, recently explained Pascal Petit, technical manager at Bio Direct.
A start of recovery in 2023
The good news for the sector is that inflation has affected conventional products more than organic ones, with the gap narrowing between the two ranges. Not spared by the crisis, the Biocoop network noted a “beginning of recovery” in its stores at the start of 2023, with turnover up slightly.