FNSEA

Background

The Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles (FNSEA) is France’s largest agricultural union.1Aude Mazoue. “France’s unprecedented drought shows climate change is ‘spiralling out of control’,” France 24, May 11, 2022. Archived November 12, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/EMUKg 

Founded in 1946, the group represents 212,000 individual members, 21,000 local syndicates, and dozens of regional and county-level farming federations, as well as specialized trade bodies representing farmers and growers in specific agricultural sectors including grains, milk, and meat.2Qui Sommes Nous?,” FNSEA. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/BNBor

According to its website, FNSEA’s objectives are  to “fight to support French farmers in their projects” and “carry the voice of farmers in European and international bodies.”3Qui Sommes Nous?,” FNSEA. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/BNBor

FNSEA describes itself as “the spearhead” of European agriculture, referring to its emergence as a leading voice influencing the development of the sector, particularly the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).4Notre histoire,” FNSEA. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/PMcY1

France is the largest agricultural producer in the European Union.5Agricultural output of the EU down by 1% in 2020,” Eurostat, November 15, 2021. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WKKxV It is considered one of the two most powerful member states within the EU, alongside Germany.6Ulrich Krotz and Joachim Schild. “France and Germany will dominate the EU after Brexit – but they won’t go unchallenged,” LSE, January 30, 2019. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/MwDpM

FNSEA has a strong influence on the French agricultural system and related government policies.  French Agricultural Minister Julien Denormandie has praised a “relationship of trust and reciprocity” between the government and the union.7Congrès de la FNSEA : l’action de Julien Denormandie saluée Christiane Lambert,” Agri 72, March 29, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5GWnA

FNSEA has emphasized the importance of pesticides to French farmers, and has been critical of France’s attempts to reduce pesticide use. The union’s positions are that “viable”, “affordable” alternatives are not available, and that France has historically had stronger targets on pesticide reductions than other EU member states – which, FNSEA contends, has damaged the competitiveness of French farmers within the EU. 

In 2020, FNSEA published a manifesto which included “the reduction of phytosanitary products when alternatives for the protection of plants exist at an acceptable cost.” The document emphasized “not leaving farmers without an alternative” and called for “no ban without [a] solution.” It also stated that “France and the European Union must ensure consistency between their environmental and climate policy and their trade policy, particularly in the agricultural sector, in order to avoid distortions of competition.”8Manifeste pour une souveraineté alimentaire solidaire UNE ALIMENTATION POUR TOUS DANS LE RESPECT DE LA PLANÈTE,” FNSEA, May 2020. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/pNTAQ 

FNSEA has lobbied for less regulation of French agriculture. In 2015, then-president of FNSEA Xavier Beaulin stated in an interview that the country should “stop running this unbearable regulatory machine for farmers,” in response to a comment from the interviewer that FNSEA’s objective was “to bring down French regulations in the field of agriculture.”9Laure Noualhat. “Xavier Beulin : « Nous sommes prêts à moins de pesticides, mais où sont les solutions alternatives ? »,” terraeco, February 20, 2015. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/oy94y 

FNSEA has repeatedly opposed the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), the EU’s flagship initiative to make farming in the EU less environmentally destructive. FNSEA has termed F2F a “degrowth strategy” and argued that the strategy’s “fundamental logic” should be questioned.10Conséquences de la Guerre en Ukraine : l’Union Européenne doit remettre la souveraineté alimentaire en priorité absolue,” FNSEA, March 2, 2022. Archived June 13, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5Te6Q

The union has also taken a pro-“innovation” stance, such as calling in 2020 for “a legal framework in favor of new breeding techniques (targeted mutagenesis, genome editing, etc.).”11Manifeste pour une souveraineté alimentaire solidaire,” FNSEA, 2020. Archived November 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/pNTAQ

In 2019, FNSEA worked with the National Gendarmerie – a branch of France’s Armed Forces  focused on law enforcement among the civilian population – to set up a special unit to combat “agribashing.”12Sophie Chapelle. “Cellule de renseignement Demeter : quand la gendarmerie se met au service de l’agro-industrie,” basta!, September 25, 2020. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/crZ8L This gendarmerie unit focused not only on crime but also “actions of an ideological nature,” or “actions de nature idéologique.” In February 2022 a French court declared this sort of surveillance illegal.13Mathilde Gérard et Stéphane Foucart. “La cellule Déméter, surveillant les « atteintes au monde agricole », est en partie dans l’illégalité selon la justice administrative,” Le Monde, February 2, 2022. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/3ipTl Environmental organizations have claimed that they were surveilled and interrogated by the unit.14Sophie Chapelle. “Cellule de renseignement Demeter : quand la gendarmerie se met au service de l’agro-industrie,” basta!, September 25, 2020. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/crZ8L

The union is also a member of farming trade body COPA-COGECA. FNSEA’s President Christiane Lambert was elected as President of COPA in 2020.15About COPA,” COPA-COGECA. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fio58 

FNSEA lobbies EU decision makers directly as well as through COPA-COGECA.16Qui sommes nous?,” FNSEA. Archived May 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/BNBor 17Copa Members,” Copa-Cogeca. Archived May 22, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/u9KVB 18FNSEA,” EU Transparency Register. Archived May 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/e5ybD

This includes lobbying on key measures within the EU’s Green Deal and its Farm to Fork Strategy, both of which are central to Brussels’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transform the agricultural system, and address the biodiversity crisis.19Conseil administration,” FNSEA. Archived May 22, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/y6Yjj

FNSEA has strong ties with the agribusiness industry. Transparency advocacy group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) states that FNSEA is “dominated internally by both large, export-oriented crop growers, and agribusinesses.”20FNSEA, France’s agribusiness war machine in the name of farmers’ defence,” Corporate Europe Observatory, October 9, 2020. Archived August 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/rLdb7

FNSEA’s former President Xavier Beulin was President of Avril, “the 5th largest French agro-industrial group.”21Xavier Beulin, President of French Farmer’s Union FNSEA died,” LinkedIn. Archived August 17, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 22Group,” Groupe Avril. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/IYaOP

In 2017, French media outlet Basta suggested that there were strong ties between FNSEA and agricultural cooperatives selling large quantities of pesticides. Basta highlighted the example of Triskalia, an agricultural cooperative with a turnover of 1.9 billion euros, whose “most profitable activity [was] the sale of phytosanitary products” such as chemical pesticides.23Sophie Chapelle. “Pourquoi la FNSEA est-elle accro au glyphosate?,” basta!, October 25, 2017. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/wTryu 

It also referenced InVivo, “the leading French cooperative group,” which was said to hold investments in pesticide companies. The article quoted the director of the company’s agricultural division: “If the chemical giants are turning away from the European market, it is up to the agricultural cooperatives to ensure the development of phytosanitary products for their members.”

InVivo’s former president Philippe Mangin held a position in the Grand-Est branch of FNSEA after leaving the cooperative.24Barnabé Binctin. “La FNSEA a pris le pouvoir sur l’agriculture dans les régions,” Reporterre, January 6, 2017. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/GIBwI

FNSEA’s ties with the agribusiness sector have been criticized. In 2020, Corporate Europe Observatory called FNSEA “France’s agribusiness war machine,” and stated that “for decades the union has embraced the industrialisation of agriculture.”25FNSEA, France’s agribusiness war machine in the name of farmers’ defence,” Corporate Europe Observatory, October 9, 2020. Archived August 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/rLdb7

Stance on Climate Change

In a climate strategy released in September 2020, FNSEA called climate change “one of the biggest concerns of our times.” In the document, FNSEA stated that farming should be “part of the solution” to climate change, by helping society to adapt to and mitigate its worst effects. The strategy expressed FNSEA’s support for the EU’s goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.26Henri Bies-Péré, Hervé Lapie, Joël Limousin, Olivier Dauger. “Faire du défi climatique une opportunité pour l’agriculture: Rapport d’orientation 2020,” FNSEA, September 10, 2020. Archived May 24, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

However, FNSEA emphasized that emissions targets should not “weigh on [the EU’s] competitiveness” or “lead to the export of GHG emissions.” 

Stance on Farm to Fork Strategy

FNSEA has been a vocal opponent of the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU’s flagship initiative to reduce agriculture-related pollution and impacts on biodiversity. F2F includes major sustainability targets, such as a 50 percent reduction in the use of chemical pesticides and 20 percent reduction in fertilizer use by 2030, as well as an expanding organic farming to 25 percent of all agricultural land use by 2030. 

In March 2022, Christine Lambert was quoted in an article saying of Farm to Fork, “Destroying our agriculture and then importing carbon is not responsible.”27Mériadec Raffray. “La stratégie « Farm to Fork » mort-née?,” L’Opinion, March 30, 2022. Archived December 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/nrNTH 

In its 2021 annual report, FNSEA outlined the actions it had taken to oppose Farm to Fork, writing that it had worked with COPA-COGECA and other European allies to “underline the risks” related to the strategy’s “quantified objectives.” FNSEA stated that “in connection with the measures of the Green Deal, it asked for a pragmatic approach,” reflecting both economic and environmental factors. It also stated that it had called for the strategies to be aligned with European trade policy.28Rapport annuel 2021,” FNSEA, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dS1PY 

In a May 2020 article on its website about the measures, FNSEA wrote: “The first estimates, based on realistic work by technical institutes, show a reduction of a third in field crop production. More than enough to plunge our trade balance even further. Is this how we will ensure the food sovereignty of France and the European Union? Is this how we will allow farmers to live with dignity from their profession and ensure the economic dynamism of rural areas?”29Stratégies farm to fork et biodiversité : la Commission fait fausse route !,” FNSEA, May 20, 2020. Archived December 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/0NYIN 

In its March 2020 response to the EU’s public consultation on the Farm to Fork strategy, FNSEA stated that the plans would put agriculture “on the path to degrowth, with uncertain environmental benefits.”30FNSEA. “Stratégie de la Ferme à la Fourchette – Réponse à la Consultation publique de la Commission européenne,” accessed via Corporate Europe Observatory, March 11, 2022. Archived August 17, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

FNSEA has in particular criticized the EU’s 2030 targets to halve the use of pesticides and increase the amount of organically-farmed land by 25 percent.31Severine Mermilliod. “‘Une nouvelle PAC plus “verte” : la FNSEA inquiète du “niveau des exigences fixées’,” Europe 1, September 21, 2020. Archived May 24, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dWRDZ 

FNSEA has expressed “strong concern” about the F2F pesticide reduction targets becoming legally binding. In its 2022 response to the European Commission’s revision of its Sustainable Use of Pesticides regulation (SUR), which would translate the rule changes into law, FNSEA suggested that proposals to ban use of pesticides in “sensitive areas,” such as parks, could distort competition between different regions and “risk loss of potential for agricultural production threatening the sustainability of farms and sectors.” The group also stated that the regulation “must in particular support precision agriculture, including high-performance anti-drift equipment, biocontrol products, genetics and robotics.”32FNSEA. “Positions détaillées de la FNSEA sur le projet de règlement (classées par chapitre),” European Commission, September 19, 2022. Archived November 21, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.   

The effect that the Farm to Fork Strategy may have on European yields has been widely contested. As of November 2022, seven impact assessments by a number of universities, consultancies, and public institutions have been published.  Some suggest that the strategy’s targets could result in lower crop yields and lower income for farmers. However, according to reporting by Corporate Europe Observatory, five of the seven reports  have been paid for and conducted in collaboration with the agrochemical industry.33Nina Holland and Rachel Tansey. “A loud lobby for a silent spring: the pesticide industry’s toxic lobbying tactics against Farm to Fork,” Corporate Europe Observatory, December 2021. Archived May 24, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Multiple NGOs and academics have criticized the studies, arguing that they give only a “partial and incomplete” picture of F2F’s potential impacts.34Alice Poiron. “Why Attacks Against the EU Farm to Fork Strategy Completely Miss the Point,” Slow Food, February 9, 2022. Archived October 25, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/hwUqD For example, the existing impact assessments do not consider the positive impacts that can result from expanding sustainable practices and reducing pesticide use, such as growth of bee populations resulting in improved crop pollination. Critics also note that the studies do not consider the cost of not taking action, such as potential climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and a global food production crisis.35Nina Holland and Rachel Tansey. “A loud lobby for a silent spring: the pesticide industry’s toxic lobbying tactics against Farm to Fork,” Corporate Europe Observatory, December 2021. Archived May 24, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 36“Green Deal targets for 2030 and agricultural production studies – Fact Sheet,” European Commission, February 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory has accused agrochemical industry members of using impact assessments to “scaremonger about economic losses while painting an unfair picture” of a more sustainable food system.37A loud lobby for a silent spring: The pesticide industry’s lobbying tactics against Farm to Fork,” Corporate Europe Observatory, March 17, 2022. Archived July 26, 2022. Archive PDF: https://archive.ph/hpFb3  

FNSEA stated in its 2021 annual report that it had “requested a global impact study” on Farm to Fork, “integrating all the aspirational quantified objectives, including aspects socio-economic, the consequences on employment and the territories.”38Rapport annuel 2021,” FNSEA, 2022, page 8. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dS1PY 

Corporate Europe Observatory has found that agribusiness lobby groups “flooded” the European Commission with similar calls for cumulative impact assessments.39A loud lobby for a silent spring: The pesticide industry’s lobbying tactics against Farm to Fork,” Corporate Europe Observatory, March 17, 2022. Archived July 26, 2022. Archive PDF: https://archive.ph/hpFb3 Politico reported that influencing the Commission to provide more impact assessments was “a key lobbying objective of Farm to Fork skeptics.”40Eddy Wax. “MEPs vote on EU’s green food plan amid lobbying blitz,” POLITICO, October 17, 2021. Archived November 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6sAeB 

According to Corporate Europe Observatory, the impact assessments “tend to favour economic factors over social and environmental ones,” adding that these reports are “only delaying progress towards tackling the climate emergency.”41Vicky Cann. “Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business,” Corporate Europe Observatory, July 28, 2022. Archived October 25, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dSLE8 

In an October 2021 vote on Farm to Fork, MEPs responded to the calls for impact assessments by making just one amendment to the strategy: a commitment to conduct “robust, scientific ex-ante impact assessments” on any upcoming legal proposals.42Eddy Wax. “EU’s green food plan survives lobby push in MEPs’ votes,” POLITICO, October 20, 2021. Archived November 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Ri5oo 

Using Ukraine War to Attack F2F

In a statement released following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the FNSEA called for the European Union to take greater measures to ensure EU food security. In the statement, FNSEA criticized the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, calling it a strategy for “​​décroissance,” or “degrowth.”43Conséquences de la Guerre en Ukraine : l’Union Européenne doit remettre la souveraineté alimentaire en priorité absolue,” FNSEA, March 2, 2022. Archived June 13, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5Te6Q

Campaigners have termed the agriculture industry’s calls to roll back Farm to Fork in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “grossly misleading,” and attempts “to scare policymakers” into backtracking on Farm to Fork.44Clare Carlile and Hazel Healy. “Flagship EU Green Farming Reforms in Peril as Lobbyists Exploit Ukraine War,” DeSmog, December 9, 2022. 

According to Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, “the invasion of Ukraine has certainly helped spark a crisis of food prices and hunger, but it can’t be emphasized enough that there has been no shortage of food supply.”45Clare Carlile and Hazel Healy. “Flagship EU Green Farming Reforms in Peril as Lobbyists Exploit Ukraine War,” DeSmog, December 9, 2022. 

In May 2022, the European Commission released a statement affirming that “food availability is not at stake in the EU” as a result of the war in Ukraine.46The European Commission steps up its monitoring of agricultural markets impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” European Commission, May 20, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/TDhuD 

In March 2022, a group of civil society organizations, including IPES-Food and ActionAid, signed an open letter to members of the European Commission which stated: “The crisis in Ukraine is yet another reminder of how essential it is to implement the Green Deal and its Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.”47Joint open letter: EU food supply and solidarity response to the war in Ukraine,” Food Policy Coalition, March 10, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/XDGgG

However, investigative journalism outlet Lighthouse Reports commented at the time that “the lobbying [of FNSEA and others] seems to be working.”48Lighthouse Reports. “The lobbying seems to be working. “If food security is in danger, then we need to have another look at the objectives of the Farm to Fork strategy and correct them,” said EU Agriculture Commissioner @jwojc on March 2,” Tweet thread by @LHreports, March 8, 2022. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5z6sE 

FNSEA called for a roll back of a F2F measure mandating that farmers ensure at least 4 percent of their land is “non-productive.”49Conséquences de la Guerre en Ukraine : l’Union Européenne doit remettre la souveraineté alimentaire en priorité absolue,” FNSEA, March 2, 2022. Archived June 13, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5Te6Q

A coalition of civil society organizations responded that “ploughing more farmland […] would be absurd and dangerously increase ecosystem collapses, the most severe threat to social-ecological stability and food security.”50Joint open letter: EU food supply and solidarity response to the war in Ukraine,” Food Policy Coalition, March 10, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/XDGgG

Environmental NGO BirdLife International responded that “the all-powerful French farm union FNSEA, followed by its European umbrella organisation COPA-COGECA,” has “launched an assault” on F2F. It stated that French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie was also attempting to “shove the EU off its path towards an ecological transition in farming,” noting that Denormandie is “a strong supporter of the farm lobby.51Farm lobby uses Russia-Ukraine war as opportunity to attack the European Green Deal,” BirdLife International, March 8, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/i4Baa 

In April 2022, France announced that it would allow farmers to cultivate non-productive areas. France’s Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie stated that France would “assume Europe’s role as a provider of food.”52Hugo Struna. “CAP talks could be impacted by recent French fallow land derogation,” Euractiv, April 22, 2022. Archived November 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/CALmi

In July 2022, the European Commission also announced that it would be pausing the requirement to preserve 4 percent of non-productive land, “following a request from EU Member States.”53Commission proposes a temporary short-term derogation from certain agricultural policy rules to increase the production of cereals,” European Commission, July 22, 2022. Archived November 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/CJe9V 

Influence over French Agricultural System

FNSEA holds strong influence over the French agricultural system. Corporate Europe Observatory argues that it “is much more than just a farmer’s trade union: it has been the co-manager, together with large sections of the French State, of France’s agricultural system for the past 50 years.”54FNSEA, France’s agribusiness war machine in the name of farmers’ defence,” Corporate Europe Observatory, October 9, 2020. Archived August 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/rLdb7

FNSEA President Christiane Lambert described French Agricultural Minister Julien Denormandie as a “good spokesperson for our cause” in 2021.55François Parsy. “Curieux, le tweet vient d’être supprimé. Dommage pour la @FNSEA, les captures d’écran existent,” Tweet by @FraParsy, June 14, 2021. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived .png on file at DeSmog. 

During an FNSEA event in March 2022, Denormandie praised a “relationship of trust and reciprocity” with the FNSEA.56Congrès de la FNSEA : l’action de Julien Denormandie saluée Christiane Lambert,” Agri 72, March 29, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5GWnA 

In 2019, the FNSEA worked with the National Gendarmerie – France’s military force focused on law enforcement amongst the civilian population – to set up a special unit to combat “agribashing.”57Sophie Chapelle. “Cellule de renseignement Demeter : quand la gendarmerie se met au service de l’agro-industrie,” basta!, September 25, 2020. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/crZ8L 

According to FNSEA vice president Étienne Gangneron, the unit was created at FNSEA’s “express request” after “several months” of activism by the union.58Le Bureau,” FNSEA. Archived December 8, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/sM7zF 59Marie Astier. “La cellule de gendarmerie Déméter harcèle les opposants à l’agro-industrie,” Reporterre, January 28, 2022. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/23HDg 60Mise en place de la cellule Demeter : enfin une protection concrète contre les intrusions d’élevage !,” FNSEA, November 7, 2019. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/DPOCN

According to Le Monde, the unit’s objectives extended beyond preventing theft, equipment damage, and other crimes against farmers, to intervene in activism that criticized mainstream agricultural practices.61Mathilde Gérard et Stéphane Foucart. “La cellule Déméter, surveillant les « atteintes au monde agricole », est en partie dans l’illégalité selon la justice administrative,” Le Monde, February 2, 2022. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/3ipTl

Environmental organizations reported being surveilled and interrogated by the unit. Alerte Pesticides Haute-Girond, a grassroots group campaigning to end use of synthetic pesticides,  claimed it was questioned for organizing a discussion on the risks of pesticide use. Semaine Pour les Alternatives aux Pesticides, a group that organizes an annual series of events promoting alternatives to pesticides, said it was questioned “to check that what [the group] were organizing could not cause any damage,” and that the gendarmerie unit “wanted to know if we were planning a demonstration in the street and if farmers would be present.”62Sophie Chapelle. “Cellule de renseignement Demeter : quand la gendarmerie se met au service de l’agro-industrie,” basta!, September 25, 2020. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/crZ8L

In February 2022, the Paris administrative court declared the unit in part illegal. According to Le Monde, the court stated: “It is not up to a gendarmerie cell to monitor environmental defenders or animal rights activists to prevent ‘actions of an ideological nature.’”63Mathilde Gérard et Stéphane Foucart. “La cellule Déméter, surveillant les « atteintes au monde agricole », est en partie dans l’illégalité selon la justice administrative,” Le Monde, February 2, 2022. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/3ipTl

Within France, FNSEA’s relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture has been a source of contention between the union and environmental organizations. In December 2021, environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion sent out a hoax press release announcing the merger of FNSEA and the Ministry of Agriculture.64Stéphane Foucart. “‘Aucun gouvernement n’a suivi ou devancé avec une telle constance les desiderata du productivisme agricole’,” Le Monde, December 12, 2021. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/tODra 

FNSEA’s perceived influence over French policymakers is particularly significant given France’s role within the EU as its largest agricultural producer.65Agricultural output of the EU down by 1% in 2020,” Eurostat, November 15, 2021. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WKKxV France accounts for one fifth of Europe’s overall agricultural output.66Liz Alderman. “The Future Farmers of France Are Tech Savvy, and Want Weekends Off,” The New York Times, October 7, 2021. Archived May 24, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/k9vdQ  

France also consistently receives the largest subsidies from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidy scheme for farmers.67Agriculture Atlas | The Biggest Beneficiary,” Arc 2020, September 16, 2019. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/9NGcu 68Financing of the CAP,” European Parliament, April 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/37oNW

Actions

Lobbying Presidential Candidates in 2022

During France’s 2022 presidential election, FNSEA lobbied candidates on the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy and European Green Deal. On its website, FNSEA published “30 proposals for an ambitious presidential project.” The second proposal, “restore an ambition for sustainable growth to Farm to Fork, Biodiversity strategies and Green deal,”  implied that economic growth had not been factored into F2F or the Green Deal.6930 Propositions pour un projet présidentiel ambitieux,” FNSEA. Archived August 4, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

In January 2022, FNSEA President Christine Lambert told Le Journal du Dimanche that Farm to Fork targets to reduce pesticide use and increase organic farming would be difficult to achieve, and called for an impact study. She also stated that some presidential candidates were “proponents” of degrowth, stating: “Their speeches are worrying. They are dangerous for territories, jobs and the economy.”70Ce que le Conseil de l’agriculture française attend des candidats à l’élection présidentielle,” Le Journal du Dimanche, January 8, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/kVp86

Lambert named two candidates, Yannick Jadot and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had supported a key reform proposed as part of Farm to Fork measures that would encourage EU subsidies to support greener farming practices, instead of the current practice of linking subsidies to the area of land owned.71Huge Struna. “French candidates’ views on EU farming policies explained,” Euractiv, March 25, 2022. Archived August 4. 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/QvZyg 

By contrast, President Emmanuel Macron, the incumbent candidate, promised to revise the EU Farm to Fork targets, and stated that the strategy was based on a world “before the war in Ukraine.”72Huge Struna. “French candidates’ views on EU farming policies explained,” Euractiv, March 25, 2022. Archived August 4. 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/QvZyg

FNSEA welcomed Macron’s election, stating that it expected him to “entrust” the next Minister for Agriculture with implementing the union’s 30 proposals.73FNSEA urges Macron to act on food sovereignty,” Eurofruit, April 25, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Dw44R 

In May 2022, following the election, the European Commission criticized France’s implementation plans for the Common Agricultural Policy, saying they lacked environmental ambition.74Stéphane Foucart. “France remains reluctant to green its agriculture despite criticism from the European Commission,” Le Monde, May 5, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/RwS5R

Lobbying on Ecophyto Plan

FNSEA lobbied against France’s “Ecophyto” policy to reduce pesticide use 25 percent by 2020, and 50 percent by 2025. The plan also aimed to phase out the “main uses” of the pesticide glyphosate by the end of 2020, and by 2022 at the latest “for all uses.” The plan was to be implemented in three key phases launched in 2008, 2015, and 2018.75Le plan Écophyto, qu’est-ce que c’est ?,” Ministère de L’Agriculture et de la Souveraineté Alimentaire, February 7, 2022. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/hR2Ub 

The Ecophyto plan was amongst the strongest  legislative responses to an EU Directive requiring Member States to develop national strategies to reduce the risks and harms of pesticide use on the environment and human health. Ecophyto was one of only two plans that committed to halving pesticide use by 2030. However, the commitment “was only on paper,” according to Investigate Europe, and French farmers’ pesticide purchases “actually increased between 2011 and 2020 from 61,200 to 67,700 tonnes.”76Harald Schumann, Nico Schmidt and Alicia Prager. “The battle over pesticides in Europe,” Investigate Europe, June 24, 2022. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/POsZd 

France has the highest use of pesticides in the EU, due to its large agricultural areas and  number of vineyards.77Lars Neumeister. “Locked in Pesticides: The European Union’s dependency on harmful pesticides and how to overcome it,” FoodWatch, 2022. Archived August 17, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

In the run-up to the 2015 revision of the Ecophyto plan, FNSEA contested elements of the proposed measures. 

In a 2015 interview, then-president of FNSEA Xavier Beaulin stated: “We are ready for fewer pesticides, but where are the alternative solutions? …[W]e will not be content with a solution that offers a reduction in volumes, or being told: ‘the only solution is agroecology.’ There are other solutions to reduce the use of phytosanitary products, notably through seeds. We must stop opposing all regulations to innovation.”78Laure Noualhat. “Xavier Beulin : « Nous sommes prêts à moins de pesticides, mais où sont les solutions alternatives ? »,” terraeco, February 20, 2015. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/oy94y 

Beaulin argued that some French imports did “not respect standards and specifications” imposed on French farmers with regards to pesticides, citing a study by Generation Future of pesticide residues on lettuces for sale in France. However, Beaulin was criticized for incorrectly citing the evidence, because  only two of the lettuces tested in the study were imported – both from Spain – while 29 of the lettuces tested were produced in France.79Tâm Tran Huy. “Pesticides dans les salades : la FNSEA critique l’Espagne… à tort,” Public Sénat, September 23, 2015. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/O4UdS 

FNSEA called the 2015 revision of the Ecophyto plan “surprising and upsetting,” arguing that it was “always going beyond European obligations, always doing better and faster where our competitors test and observe before deciding. This is not a policy, these are ideological postures.”80Amelie Bachalet. “FNSEA : « Valls promet, l’administration démet »,” Terre-net, October 28, 2015. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/SOloF 

In 2018, FNSEA again lobbied against a revision of the Ecophyto plan, meeting with ministers about its implementation and calling for “complete impact studies on the alternatives.”81Ecophyto II+ : écoutez les agriculteurs !,” FNSEA, April 11, 2019. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/pz3B9

Lobbying over glyphosate

FNSEA is a vocal defender of the controversial pesticide glyphosate,82Sophie Chapelle, “Pourquoi la FNSEA est-elle accro au glyphosate?,” basta!, October 25, 2017. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/wTryu which came up for re-approval in the EU in 2022.83Glyphosate,” European Commission. Archived December 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/37vjz

FNSEA has staged protests to demand glyphosate’s re-approval, including blocking the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris in 2019.84Géraldine Woessner. “Preuve à l’appui : les glyphotests sont bidon !,” Le Point, December 19, 2019. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jwJO3 FNSEA has also conducted field tests that attempted to demonstrate that glyphosate can not be detected in farmers’ urine, and thus was safe to use.85Thomas Deszpot. “Retrouve-t-on du glyphosate dans le corps de 90% des Français, comme le déplore Jean-Luc Mélenchon ?,” TFI Info, May 31, 2022. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/KEmXe 

Marketed by Monsanto as “Roundup,” glyphosate is the world’s most widely used pesticide. Agrichemical giant Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018.86Camila Domonoske. “Monsanto No More: Agri-Chemical Giant’s Name Dropped In Bayer Acquisition,National Public Radio, June 4, 2018. Archived October 27, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/4I5ti 

Glyphosate has been found to harm pollinators and soil health.87The environmental impacts of glyphosate,” Friends of the Earth Europe, June 2013. Archived June 10, 2021. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Because glyphosate is applied to crops as a spray, it can spread beyond targeted crop fields and weeds and affect surrounding soils, plants, wild animal species, and microorganisms.88Lindsey Konkel. “What’s the world’s most widely used herbicide doing to tiny critters?,” Environmental Health News, March 18, 2019. Archived November 23, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/GTQ7R 

Some studies have linked glyphosate to changes in the metabolism, growth, behavior, and reproduction of certain fishes, mollusks, and insects.89Lindsey Konkel. “What’s the world’s most widely used herbicide doing to tiny critters?,” Environmental Health News, March 18, 2019. Archived November 23, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/GTQ7R

There has been widespread debate regarding the risk of glyphosate to human health. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) found that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen. In contrast, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic. The EFSA’s decision was widely criticized: it was believed to have relied on undisclosed industry studies alongside published scientific papers. In 2017, it was found that entire sections of the risk report had been “copy-pasted directly from industry’s original application.”90The Glyphosate Story so far: Controversy over Science, Lawsuits and Dodgy Lobbying Tactics,” Corporate Europe Observatory, Health and Environmental Alliance, Global 2000, and PAN Germany, July 2021. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/zHWEJ 

Lobbying Against Glyphosate Phase-out Targets in France

In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to end use of glyphosate within three years.91MPs ignore Macron pledge on glyphosate,” The Connexion, June 29, 2018. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/QPJHO

Christiane Lambert, president of FNSEA, argued that it would not be possible to ban glyphosate within three years “for all usages.” FNSEA denounced the “additional costs” farmers would face due to the measures, as well as the intention to ban glyphosate “without solutions or alternatives.”92François Vignal. “Glyphosate : « L’influence du lobby de la FNSEA fait faire marche arrière à Macron »,” Public Sénat, January 25, 2019. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZUXJH 

FDSEA Morbihan, a regional department of the FNSEA, argued that the environmental movement had been “conveying moralizing, catastrophic, even conspiratorial messages” in order to mobilize the French public against the pesticide.93Patrick Croguennec. “Bretagne. Le glyphosate, un débat vraiment impossible ?,” Ouest-France, May 10, 2021. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/foDDn 

In 2018, the French National Assembly rejected a ban on all uses of glyphosate by 2021, thereby allowing continued use of glyphosate in some forms of agriculture.94Adrien Cahuzac. “Glyphosate : comment les agriculteurs de la FNSEA ont remporté la partie,” Le Journal du Dimanche, June 14, 2018. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Tku75 

FNSEA President Christiane Lambert denied lobbying on the issue, stating, “I don’t lobby. I was democratically elected by the farmers to defend them.” However, she acknowledged that she had met with Nicolas Hulot, then-Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, and that “glyphosate was one subject among others” during their conversation.95Adrien Cahuzac. “Glyphosate : comment les agriculteurs de la FNSEA ont remporté la partie,” Le Journal du Dimanche, June 14, 2018. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Tku75 

François Veillerette, president of the French environmental organization Future Generations, noted that the inconsistencies between Macron’s commitment on banning glyphosate and the rejection of the ban by his own majority-holding party reflected “pesticide industry lobbies and the FNSEA, who used all their weight to prevent [the glyphosate ban] from being incorporated into the law.”96Ségolène Allemandou and Guillaume Guguen. “The Pesticide Generation – Children on the Front Line,” France 24, November 2018. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Q4VPY 

In 2019, FNSEA gave evidence to the parliamentary fact-finding mission on “the follow-up to the glyphosate exit strategy.” FNSEA argued that there were “significant risks” to banning glyphosate, including “loss of markets” and “loss of sectors.” Shortly afterwards, President Macron announced that it would not be possible to meet his earlier target for phasing out glyphosate – a decision that French news outlet LCP Assmblée Nationale linked to FNSEA’s position.97Vincent Kranen. “Interdiction du Glyphosate: La FNSEA demande une “porte de sortie” au pouvoir politique,” LCP Assemblée Nationale, February 14, 2019. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: ​​https://archive.ph/nOSAm 

French politician Joël Labbé stated that “it is the influence of the agricultural lobby [including FNSEA] which makes Emmanuel Macron backtrack once again.”98François Vignal. “Glyphosate : « L’influence du lobby de la FNSEA fait faire marche arrière à Macron »,” Public Sénat, January 25, 2019. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZUXJH 

Lobbying for Glyphosate Approval in the EU

FNSEA has also lobbied at the EU level for continued use of glyphosate. 

In 2017, when the European Commission debated whether to approve use of glyphosate in the EU for the next five to 15 years, FNSEA mobilized over the issue.99Sophie Chapelle. “Pourquoi la FNSEA est-elle accro au glyphosate?,” basta!, October 25, 2017. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/wTryu Among other actions, FNSEA coordinated a Paris protest in which 250 farmers blocked the Champs-Élysées by laying on mounds of straw.100The last straw: French farmers block Champs Elysees in Paris to protest herbicide ban,” Euronews, September 22, 2017. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/C0aIh 

FNSEA also provided data for and had “intensive contact” with a consultancy firm preparing a study on the potential impacts of a glyphosate ban. In its final version, the study warned that a ban or phaseout would lead to very significant agricultural losses.101The cumulative agronomic and economic impact of glyphosate in Europe,” Stewart RedQueen, February 2017. Archived March 15, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

The study was funded by the pesticide lobby group European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), since renamed CropLife Europe. ECPA used its findings in factsheets distributed to MEPs ahead of the vote.102Last minute pro-Roundup lobbying ahead of high-level #MonsantoPapers hearing,” Corporate Europe Observatory, September 10, 2017. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/T4uBQ 

In the final vote, glyphosate was approved for a five year period, with renewal required in 2023.

France was one of four EU member states appointed to assess Roundup’s safety as part of the Assessment Group on Glyphosate (AGG).103Glyphosate,” European Food Safety Authority. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/gBcmW 

Ahead of the AGG report’s publication in June 2021, farmers from a local FNSEA met to defend the use of glyphosate.104Barbara Gabel. “Les agriculteurs de la FNSEA ne veulent pas se passer du glyphosate,” franceinfo, May 11, 2021. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/LrPPL 

In early 2022, following publication of an Environmental Science and Pollution Research study testing the urine of over 6,800 participants for glyphosate traces, FNSEA members defended Roundup. The study, which was conducted by the Association Campagne Glyphosate alongside academics, found that  “glyphosate levels [were] detected in 99% of the French population, with higher values in men, in younger people, and in farmers.”105Daniel Grau, Nicole Grau, Quentin Gascuel, Christian Paroissin, Cécile Stratonovitch, Denis Lairon, Damien A. Devault, Julie Di Cristofaro. “Quantifable urine glyphosate levels detected in 99% of the French population, with higher values in men, in younger people, and in farmers,” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, January 12, 2022. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/XNwHm 

Divisions of FNSEA organized a press conference to challenge the results of the study and accused “the glyphosate pissing campaign” of “spreading false information.”106Indre-et-Loire : le glyphosate revient sur le devant de la scène,” la Nouvelle Republique.fr, January 29, 2022. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/D7rhO 

In the past, several branches of FNSEA have carried out counter-studies in response to similar findings. Their studies, which used less sensitive analyses, found no glyphosate traces.107Géraldine Woessner. “Preuve à l’appui : les glyphotests sont bidon !,” Le Point, December 19, 2019. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jwJO3 

FNSEA’s findings have been questioned, particularly over the limited nature of their sample sizes.108Thomas Deszpot. “Retrouve-t-on du glyphosate dans le corps de 90% des Français, comme le déplore Jean-Luc Mélenchon ?,” TFI Info, May 31, 2022. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/KEmXe

Funding

FNSEA declared a 2021 turnover of more than 1 million euros in the French Transparency Register.109FNSEA – Federation Nationale Des Syndicats D’Exploitants Agricoles,” Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/tfDOp 

Mediapart reported in 2020 that FNSEA received 6.3 million euros in member dues “via the departmental federations FDSEA,” and 4.2 million euros in government subsidies.110Amelie Poinssot. “­A la FNSEA, le train de vie hors sol des dirigeants,” Mediapart, February 19, 2020. Accessed via regards.fr. Archived November 7, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Mediapart criticized the high salaries of FNSEA management staff, which were said to be “far superior to what is done in companies of equivalent size, but also to what is practiced in other unions.” FNSEA CEO Clément Faurax was said to have raised salaries of management staff between 5 and 30 percent on taking office, meaning that he received 13,400 euros monthly (equivalent to 160,800 euros annually).111Amelie Poinssot. “­A la FNSEA, le train de vie hors sol des dirigeants,” Mediapart, February 19, 2020. Accessed via regards.fr. Archived November 7, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Terre-net reported in 2018 that FNSEA received subsidies due to its election to the French Chambers of Agriculture. The article stated that 13 million euros in annual “public funding of farmers’ trade unions” was allocated according to votes received and seats won in the elections, which FNSEA consistently has won. According to the article, “FNSEA’s financial reports show a subsidy of around 4.2 million euros in recent years.”112Arnaud Carpon. “Les élections des chambres d’agriculture, l’enjeu financier pour les syndicats,” Terre-net, December 4, 2018. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/8rWwJ

FNSEA and FDSEA’s local branches appear to have independent budgets. Multiple branches have declared turnovers on the French Transparency Register. For example, FDSEA du Finistère declared a turnover of above 1 million euros for 2021, and FDSEA du Morbihan declared a turnover of between 500,000 and 1 million euros.113FDSEA du Finistère,” Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/3Mc7V 114FDSEA du Morbihan,” Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/RHtRA

Lobbying

Lobbying in the European Union 

FNSEA reported that it spent between 200,000 – 299,999 euros (USD$236,600 – 354,899) lobbying the EU in 2021, according to the EU Transparency Register.115FNSEA,” EU Transparency Register. Archived May 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/e5ybD

Between 2010 and 2019, FNSEA spent between 1,600,000 and 2,099,994 euros (USD$1,892,000 – 2,383,293) on EU lobbying in total, according to official EU data aggregated by the transparency website LobbyFacts.116Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles (FNSEA),” LobbyFacts. Archived June 22, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fT42K#selection-323.0-323.66 

FNSEA has submitted responses to a number of European Commission public consultations, including the 2021-22 Revision of the EU Pollinators Initiative.117FNSEA,” EU Transparency Register. Archived May 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/e5ybD 

FNSEA reported that it held 17 meetings with representatives of the European Commission between 2015 and 2022, and that it also participated in “certain civil dialogue groups under COPA mandate.”118Meetings – FNSEA,” European Commission Transparency Register, November 2, 2022. Archived November 2, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 119FNSEA,” EU Transparency Register. Archived May 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/e5ybD

Lobbying in France

FNSEA’s lobby spend in France was between 600,000 and 700,000 euros in 2020 and 2021, (USD$709,800 and 828,100) and 800,000 to 900,000 euros (USD$896,000 and 1,008,000) in 2018 and 2019 and 2018, according to its declaration in the French transparency register.

The organization reported employing 10 lobbyists in 2021, and was involved in 87 lobbying activities. Between 2017 and 2021, 29 of its activities concerned pesticides, including six that specifically focused on the Ecophyto plan.120FNSEA – Federation Nationale Des Syndicats D’Exploitants Agricoles,” Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/tfDOp 

In a 2022 analysis of French lobbying records, the French media outlet Agra Presse found that FNSEA was “the main force” in agricultural lobbying in the country, dedicating at least 600,000 euros (USD$709,800) of its budget to lobbying on average since 2017, for around 70 annual actions. The analysis found that FNSEA’s departmental and regional branches were even more active: When considering all local federations, FNSEA’s departmental and regional branches had annual lobby spends of 820,000 and 680,000 euros (USD$970,060 and 804,440) for approximately 406 and 325 actions per year, respectively.121Ivan Logvenoff. “Lobbying et agriculture : qui sont les acteurs les plus influents,” Agra Presse, May 19, 2022. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/htuYa

Multiple local groups of the FNSEA (often referred to as FDSEAs – Fédération Départementale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles) also declare lobbying activities in the French Transparency Register. For example, FDSEA du Finistère declared 15 lobby activities in 2020 and eight in 2021 and. FDSEA du Morbihan declared eight in 2020 and 10 in 2021 Both declared annual lobbying budgets of under 10,000 euros (USD$11,830).122FDSEA du Finistère,” Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/3Mc7V 123FDSEA du Morbihan,” Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/RHtRA  

Some local groups have not made their transparency declarations regarding annual lobbying expenses for recent years.124FNSEA86,” Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/KCYxv 125FNSEA 17,” Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique. Archived November 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/tGu8x

Affiliations

Copa-Cogeca –  FNSEA is a member of the Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations (COPA), which is one half of the Europe-wide farming trade body COPA-COGECA. FNSEA President Christiane Lambert, is also the president of COPA.126FNSEA,” EU Transparency Register. Archived May 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/e5ybD 127About Copa,” Copa-Cogeca. Archived May 22, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fio58   

Conseil de l’Agriculture Française (CAF) – FNSEA is a member of the Conseil de l’Agriculture Française (CAF), alongside Young Farmers (French: Jeunes Agriculteurs (JA)) and three financial companies with operations in the agriculture sector: Crédit Agricole, the Mutualité Sociale Agricole, and Groupama. FNSEA President Christiane Lambert is also the president of CAF.128FNSEA,” EU Transparency Register. Archived May 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/e5ybD

Bureau Européen de l’Agriculture Française (BEAF) – Members of the Conseil de l’Agriculture Française are represented in Brussels by BEAF, which lists FNSEA as an affiliate.129FNSEA,” EU Transparency Register. Archived May 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/e5ybD BEAF spent  300,000 – 399,999 euros (USD$354,800 – 473,199) on lobbying activities in 2021, according to the EU Transparency Register.130Bureau Européen de l’Agriculture Française,” EU Transparency Register. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/s3By4

According to Corporate Europe Observatory, “the BEAF also represents many specialised national associations who also belong to the FNSEA, including the powerful associations of French wheat (AGPB) and sugarbeets (CGB) producers – AGPB for instance chairs COPA’s cereals working group.”131FNSEA, France’s agribusiness war machine in the name of farmers’ defence,” Corporate Europe Observatory, October 9, 2020. Archived August 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/rLdb7

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) – FNSEA lists EESC as an affiliate on its website, and describes the EESC as “an EU advisory body made up of representatives of workers’ and employers’ organizations and other interest groups. It transmits opinions on European matters to the Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament and thus serves as a link between the decision-making bodies and the citizens of the EU.”132Notre présence en Europe et à l’international,” FNSEA. Archived August 23, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/q6Llj

Influential Member of Key Agricultural Associations

French farming is supported by 103 “chambres d’agriculture.”133French Chambers of Commerce [EN],” Chambres D’Agriculture. Archived August 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/4Unrv

As well as providing advice to farmers, the chambers “provide expertise to public authorities and give their views on agricultural and rural issues.”134Nous connaitre,” Chambres d’Agriculture. Archived August 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/g7Avt

In the 2019 election, FNSEA won a majority of seats in all but eight of the local chambers.135RÉSULTATS DES ÉLECTIONS 2019 DES CHAMBRES D’AGRICULTURE,” Chambre D’Agriculture. Archived August 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dn9kG

APCA, the umbrella body for the chambers, lobbies the French and EU governments.136Chambre D’Agriculture France,” Chambres D’Agriculture. Archived August 2, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/MpqQh

It is also a member of and “enjoys close ties with” COPA-COGECA alongside FNSEA.137The French Chambers of Agriculture for the farmers and the rural world,” Chambres D’Agriculture. Archived August 2, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

The President of APCA from 2016 to 2019, Claude Cochonneau, had previously been vice president of FNSEA for 12 years.138Claude Cochonneau : Une vie d’engagement,” FNSEA, December 23, 2019. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/GI9rJ  

In 2021, Henri Bies-Pere, vice president of FNSEA, was appointed as chair of the agricultural group for France’s Conseil économique, social et environnemental (Le CESE).139Groupe Agriculture,” Le Cese. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vd6Q0 

The Conseil is a constitutional assembly that advises the prime minister, National Assembly, and Senate on the development of economic and social policies.140Quel est le rôle du Conseil économique, social et environnemental?,” Vie Publique, March 25, 2021. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ArpUt 141“Le Conseil économique, social et environnemental,” Le Cese, 2021. Archived August 17, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Of 15 representatives in the Conseil’s agriculture group for 2021-26, six are from FNSEA, four from APCA, and one from Jeunes Agriculeurs (JA) or “Young Farmers,” a group spun off from FNSEA. The agriculture group is involved in shaping Conseil responses to EU issues.142Groupe Agriculture,” Le Cese. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vd6Q0 143Notre histoire,” FNSEA. Archived August 3, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/PMcY1 

In October 2021, led by Biès-Péré, the agriculture group submitted a response to the Conseil’s consultation “2022: la relance du projet européen?” (“​​relaunch of the European project”). The response referred to Farm to Fork – the EU’s strategy to transition to a more sustainable agricultural system – as “nonsense,” and referenced impact studies suggesting that the strategy would lead to a fall in yields, a rise in prices, and an increase in imports.1442022 : la relance du projet européen? Déclaration du groupe Agriculture,” Le CESE, October 2021. Archived August 3, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog 

The Group also suggested that the costs would come “without any real benefit for carbon neutrality.”1452022 : la relance du projet européen? Déclaration du groupe Agriculture,” Le CESE, October 2021. Archived August 3, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

In contrast, a study by the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) predicted that Farm to Fork would “achieve significant environmental benefits in the form of reductions in greenhouse gasses and ammonia emissions as well as in gross nutrient surplus.”146J. Barreiro Hurle, M. Bogonos, M. Himics, J. Hristov, I. Perez Dominguez, A. Sahoo, G. Salputra, F. Weiss, E. Baldoni, and C. Elleby. “Modelling environmental and climate ambition in the agricultural sector with the CAPRI model,” JCR Publications Repository – European Commission, 2021. Archived August 17, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/bC5EZ

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