a familiar face in the industry – EURACTIV.com

Although little known to the public, Marc Fesneau, who will head France’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, is respected in the field but has come under fire for his past record on animal welfare. EURACTIV UK reports.

The former mayor of the small town of Marchenoir and deputy minister in charge of relations with parliament, Fesneau, was appointed on May 20 to head the newly appointed French ministry by newly appointed prime minister Elisabeth Borne.

Fesneau has long impressed the agricultural community although he is little known to the general public.

“I know Fesneau’s attachment to agriculture and rural areas,” said Christiane Lambert, president of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA). FranceInfo May 20.

The entire industry recognizes his “good knowledge of the issues”, she added.

An agricultural story

In his handover speech on May 21, Fesneau said he had a “personal, family and professional fondness” for agriculture. The father of the new Minister of Agriculture was a farmer and technical adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture in the 1980s.

Fesneau himself worked for a consulting firm which advised the Ministry of Agriculture and held several key positions at the Loir-et-Cher chamber of agriculture. He became director in charge of local development policies and European funds in 2000.

Three women at the head of the new “super” French green ministry

The Minister for Ecological Transition, Amélie de Montchalin, and the Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, will work under the supervision of the new Prime Minister in charge of “ecological and energy planning”. EURACTIV France reports.

Focus on food sovereignty

The name of the ministry has also been revamped by introducing the term “food sovereignty”.

The name change reflects the government’s new focus on strengthening food independence at national and European level, which has become the executive’s priority due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

“These strategic challenges must be placed under the umbrella of a ‘Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty,'” the agriculture union wrote. in a report published a few days before the government reshuffle.

“For agriculture, this is a major change” because it makes it possible to replace “short-term measures” by “a policy which must guide the country’s action in environmental matters”, he said. added.

Fully integrating agriculture into ecological planning is indeed at the heart of Macron’s plans for his new government, which aims to integrate environmental issues into the portfolios of all ministries.

Farmer income and market regulation

To restore food sovereignty, Fesneau said he would focus on “farmers living off their labor” at a farm in Loir-et-Cher on May 22.

The fight against unfair competition, including at EU level, is also one of Fesneau’s areas of work, who wants to review the rules so that it is “not easier to produce elsewhere”.

To achieve this, Fesneau said he would push for so-called “mirror clauses” to be put in place to prevent the import of certain unauthorized products into the EU – a promise Macron made during the French presidency. of the Council of the EU.

“We also need to rethink our business model. We discovered that a lot of our fertilizers were made in a country at war,” Fesneau also said, adding that it was essential to reduce dependence on other countries while maintaining strong exports.

He added that we must be able to feed countries like Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia which need raw materials and face worrying food shortages, especially of wheat.

Glyphosate, animal welfare, hunting

However, environmental associations and far-left and green politicians were quick to point fingers at the minister’s past actions.

For example, during the annual march against pesticides and agrochemicals on May 22, the leader of France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, recalled that just like the new Minister of Ecological Transition Amélie de Montchalin, Fesneau has “ restored the use of glyphosate”.

In 2018, Fesneau voted against the proposed amendment to ban glyphosate in parliament, saying he preferred to work on “a comprehensive measure at European level”, the newspaper reported. The New Republic.

However, most criticism of the new minister relates to animal welfare.

The associations pointed the finger when Fesneau rejected various legislative amendments proposing to ban the raising of chickens and rabbits in cages during his tenure as an MP.

Fesneau is also an experienced bow hunter and opposed Green Leader Yannick Jadot’s proposal to ban hunting on weekends and school holidays.

He also called vegans “dangerous lunatics”, which sparked anger from animal rights activists.

reassuring Brussels

At the EU level, Fesneau will have to resume negotiations on the common agricultural policy (CAP) and push forward the important law dedicated to the generational renewal of farmers.

Fesneau, who wants to give priority to the purchasing power of farmers, will push the legislator to amend a bill to include a food check for the most vulnerable, as announced by the former government, “this summer”.

His arrival also reassured Brussels. Fesneau is a convinced Europeanist who declared that “Europe is a beautiful horizon and a necessity” during the last European elections.

Fesneau, like the other ministers appointed last week, is a candidate for the June legislative elections. If defeated, he must leave office under a 2007 rule.

[Edited by Daniel Eck]

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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