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Agriculture in France Find Out More
Agriculture is hugely important in France, and all of the regions in France have local speciality produce.  From Goats cheese in Deux Sevre, Cognac from Cognac(!), mustard from Dijon to Pork from Brittany, the French produce an amazing variety of food.  This is in part due to the climate, which varies so much that it allows the production of many different food stuffs.  It is also due to the fact that the country benefits massively from  the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union.  This policy awards some farmers in  France with huge grants and subsidies to produce certain foods (e.g. rice in the Camargue, Pork in Brittany). French farmers get over 8 billion Euros of subsidies from the EU's budget for farming.
European Union spending on agriculture

Intensive and Organic Agriculture

Brittany map

In this topic we look at the benefits and problems of intensive and organic farming in Brittany, Northern France. Intensive farming is when a farmers maximises the yield (amount of meat/grain/vegetables) by either cramming the animals into small spaces, using fertilisers and chemical pesticides, and putting in a lot of labour.  Organic farming uses only natural inputs, fertilisers, seeds and pesticides. Brittany has lots of intensive farming after years of subsidies from the European Union and the French government.

The benefits and problems of organic and intensive farming;



1) Try the dustbin game at the bottom of the page

2) Look at the graph Opposite of European Union Subsidies spent by farmers in various EU Countries.

a.Which country spends the most?
b. Which country spends the least?
c. How does French spending compare with UK spending?
d. Which countries do you think give/contribute the most money to the EU? Are these the same countries as the biggest spenders?

3) Answer the following question using the links below:

Should French Farmers be subsidised by the European Union?

BBC document on the Common Agricultural Policy

Oxfam information on French farm subsidies


4) Complete this activity on the benefits and problems of different farming types

5) Watch the videos below and decide if we should scrap subsidies or not




  Benefits Problems  
Organic Farming It produces food free of chemicals which could be harmful to the human body
As no chemicals are used, the soil is "healthier", with more insects and worms in it!

Local rivers and water sources do not get polluted with chemicals when it rains

Organic food is said to taste better

The animals that are organically raised are often kept in better conditions with less animals per m

The farmer gains a premium price for growing organic
A whole crop could be lost as pesticides and fungicides are not allowed.

Less food is produced - this is a problem in many areas where population is still growing

There is no real evidence that organic food tastes better or is better for human health

The farmer has to wait a long time to be certified organic, even if they are not using chemicals on their farm.  This is because the soil has to be given time to recover from intensive production

Money is lost in the chemical industries
Intensive farming It produces a lot of food - this increases food security in a time of growing population.

New innovations in farming such as GM crops could increase production even more, but they would need chemicals.

Chemicals aid plant growth and stop pests, fungi and bacteria attacking vital food supplies.

Food is cheaper

The farmer can produce a lot of food therefore makes lots of money and can employ lots of people

Chemicals run into water courses and cause real damage - eutrophication can occur where chemicals cause algae to grow in rivers and lakes, which take up all of the Oxygen and ruin the environment for fish

The animals conditions are very poor within many types of industrial farming

Soils can become very infertile with this type of farming

The production of chemical fertilisers and insecticides can damage the atmosphere

Chemicals are harmful to human life.

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