French Minister Stéphane Le Foll
2 February 2015

Agroecology: reduce the use of phytosanitary products by 50% in 2025

Reduce the use of phytosanitary products in agriculture by 50% in 2025: that is the goal Government spokesman Stéphane Le Foll has set as part of the new Ecophyto plan presented on 30 January, with a transitional goal of a 25% reduction in 2020.
Content published under the Government Valls II from 2014 26th August to 2016 11th February
If nothing is done, "phytosanitary products are like a time bomb" the Minister explained. This plan uses a new method based on helping farmers move toward new more efficient production methods:
  • it will draw on the diffusion of low-input techniques: crop rotation, natural alternatives to pesticides (biological control), innovative machinery, etc. The aim is to move from high-input agriculture with extensive use of chemicals, nitrogen and fossil fuels to agriculture with extensive use of knowledge and innovation;
  • it will deploy the experience of 2,000 pioneer farms which saw their use of pesticides drop by 12% on average in 2013. The number of these farms will increase to 3,000, with each one training 10 farms located in the surrounding area;
  • it will experiment with the implementation of certificates for the economic use of phytosanitary products (CEPP - Certificats d’économie de produits phytosanitaires) with the distributors of these products being required to lower the number of doses used by 20% over 5 years. "And if the objective is not met, there will be financial penalties" on their margins. In this way, "instead of selling a product, distributors will be encouraged to sell more services, that is to say teaching farmers to use correct quantities or alternative techniques." 
This new Ecophyto plan is at the heart of the agroecology model for French agriculture which has been in place since 2012. With this model, "economic use is not contradictory with the environment: it is about improving economic competitiveness by reducing the consumption of energy, water, fertilisers, and phytosanitary products"... and thus drawing on natural mechanisms rather than fighting them.

2015 marks the first year of the agroecology generation in France, thanks to the implementation in 2012 of the levers making it possible: reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Law on the Future of Agriculture, plans to develop methanisation, the organic sector, reduce the use of antibiotics, etc. More and more farmers are adhering to this model: 45% of them already consider themselves committed to this approach. And "those under 35 are much more involved." "The lines are shifting," Stéphane Le Foll declared, intent on pursuing these efforts of persuasion.

Agroecology: A Different Approach to Agriculture (Stéphane Le Foll, Huffigton Post website, 2014-18-09)

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