“The war in Ukraine has forced us to develop economic and food sovereignty.”

FIGAROVOX / Maintenance- The war in Ukraine has highlighted that European agriculture depends on foreign imports. Paul Melun explains that French products need to be promoted for farmers and consumers.

Paul Melun is an essayist and president of “Souverains Demain!”.He recently published Tomorrow’s Sovereign: An independent, ecological and innovative French manifesto. (Ed. Marie B., 2021), a collective work.


FIGAROVOX.-How much is European agriculture threatened by this war in Ukraine? Is there a high risk of shortage?

Paul Melan .- The implementation of the theory of comparative advantage that encourages countries to specialize and trade (David Ricardo’s theory is the basis of free trade), and the advent of globalization have significantly changed European agriculture in recent decades. If this model allowed higher yields, lower prices, and more diversity in the European diet, it would also expose us to great instability, in this case a geopolitical imbalance. Exposing.

Today, our breeders rely on Ukraine for almost 50% of their sunflower diet and corn, and their crops require synthetic fertilizers (almost one-third imported from Russia) and gas, 40% of which. Is from Russia. If our grain supply risk remains low, price fluctuations can affect our farmers and the state must support them. Russia and Ukraine account for 30% of the world’s wheat trade. While some countries will be hit hard by this war in Ukraine (Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, etc.), Europe will continue to be a net exporter of wheat and must be spared (France is 1).er European wheat producers).

Faced with the risk of shortage, France is fairly well prepared. French agriculture exports more than imports, which is good.

Paul Melan

Faced with the risk of shortage, France is fairly well prepared. Our food sovereignty is partially guaranteed in an era when more than half of France’s land is occupied by agriculture. French agriculture exports more than imports, which is good.

What does the Ukrainian War say about the state of our agriculture?

As with past pandemics, we measure the urgent need to maintain and develop economic sovereignty and independence in the face of war. Over the next few years, we will be forced to increase acreage and production in France and Europe. It must respect the harmony between biodiversity and our landscape (forests, hedges, etc.).

The war in Ukraine, like all the economic and geopolitical imbalances that cross our world, must force us to rethink our relationship with agriculture. For too long, the globalized ruling class elite has ignored agricultural production. Prefering “high value” services, they devalued land transactions and revitalized our countryside. Honoring our rural and agricultural genius must once again become a central element of our economy and culture.

This paradigm shift needs to effectively reduce dependence on foreign imports for both farmers and consumers by supporting French products. Promoting local agriculture means creating a virtuous cycle for farmers’ living standards, food quality, rural economic dynamism, and national independence. “Tomorrow’s Sovereign! Independent, Ecological and Innovative Manifest for France”, we advocate local agriculture based on smaller farms and less dependent on foreign imports. French agriculture should not be aligned with global competition with sad health and environmental standards, but on the contrary, it presupposes a high quality position (especially through labels such as IGP, AOC). ). In this sense, we need to prioritize “French-made” fertilizers, including organic fertilizers, and reduce the use of mineral fertilizers.

On the eve of the Versailles Summit, the European Commission and the French Minister of Economy emphasized biogas in future alternative solutions, what do you think? Is European agriculture resilient enough?

Our book also proposes biogas as a future solution. But today, the 2019-2028 Multi-Year Energy Program (PPE) predicts that biogas will account for only 7% of gas consumption in 2030, which is not enough. Both the EU and the Minister of Economy are timid about the investment required by biogas. Launching a vast project in this area requires more political will and, above all, planning.

The EU must inevitably help France fund major investment projects, including biogas.

Paul Melan

It’s time to invest decades in these programs. Profitability is low in the current financial system, but it is essential to our environment and sovereignty. This must necessarily be started by a public actor. Unfortunately, the European Commission has shown that it is more enthusiastic about managing public spending while delaying investment by member states rather than supporting it.

The EU must inevitably help France fund major investment projects, including biogas. Otherwise, our independence will be sacrificed again at the Brussels accounting and short-term reflex altar.

What are your options?

To properly approach the seized alternatives, you must first agree on a method. Strategic themes such as energy and agriculture are of general concern, regardless of the sole concern of economic interests, and require long-term reflection, so public institutions take the lead. I agree with that.

I am in favor of the nationalization of companies privatized in the energy sector (EDF, GDF, etc.) in recent years, as well as regulatory, legal and financial planning. You also need to maintain levels and invest in efficient nuclear power systems and certain renewable energies (solar, biogas, etc. in artificial environments). When it comes to shale gas development, I’m personally at a disadvantage given the risk of groundwater pollution and the potential for triggering mini-earthquakes.

The ecological transition of agriculture is essential and should not be done to the rural or peasant world. We must bring agriculture back to the center of France, respecting our landscape, biodiversity and farmers.

Paul Melan

The ecological transition of agriculture is essential and should not be done to the rural or peasant world. French agricultural engineering is our history and substance, our territory is rich in extraordinary know-how, and our farmers are fully aware of their environment. First, we must rethink agriculture geographically. Models of intensive farming, huge monoculture farms, and farms with 1000 cows are not future models. We must bring agriculture back to the center of France, respecting our landscape, biodiversity and farmers.

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