Every ten years, France launches a major census of its agricultural holdings. An exercise imposed by Brussels and orchestrated at the same tempo in all twenty-seven countries of the European Union. On the national territory, 1,500 investigators, relying on an online questionnaire campaign, auscultated the profession between October 2020 and May 2021. The Ministry of Agriculture revealed the first results of this operation, Friday, December 10, knowing that the final assessment will not be delivered until April 2022 and that we will have to wait until the end of 2022 to discover the entire European panorama.
First observation, and not the least, the ranks of French farmers continued to thin out. In a decade, their number fell by 21%, from 490,000 in 2010 to 389,000 in 2020. Thus, nearly 100,000 farms were wiped off the map in mainland France over this period. The ministry emphasizes, however, that this dynamic, which began in the 1970s, is weaker than in the previous decade. The rate of these “disappearances” has increased from 3% to 2.3% per year.
Livestock are the most affected by this sharp decrease. The number of farms specializing in the production of milk or meat has plunged by 31%. As a result, while in 2010 breeders, on the one hand, producers of major crops (cereals, oilseeds, beets, potatoes, etc.), arborists and wine-growers, on the other, were practically on an equal footing, the gap is is dug. Farms specializing in plants have become the majority and account for 52% of the total number, while livestock specialists only represent 37%. Mixed farms, known as “mixed farming and livestock farming”, are also losing ground and are close to 10%. Today, France is therefore first and foremost a land of arable crops, with 112,000 specialized farms. Then comes viticulture, with 59,000 farmers. Beef producers (48,000), for their part, come third.
With regard to cultivated agricultural land, the surface remained almost stable, at 26.7 million hectares, or nearly 50% of the metropolitan territory. Quite logically, the size of farms is increasing, with an average of 69 hectares. The expansion of areas is more marked for breeders, the size of dairy farms increasing on average from 78 to 106 hectares in ten years, while that of beef cattle producers grows from 65 to 85 hectares and that of producers. of grains and oilseeds, from 80 to 96 hectares.
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