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SPACE: France facing the crisis

Philippe Caldier
After a fall of agricultural income in 2008 (-11% in real terms, after two years of exceptional growth), French farmers have to face the consequences of the world crisis.

By Philippe Caldier

Almost all the sectors are marked by social or economical tensions due to lower prices and too high production costs. In the industry, mergers and acquisitions are frequent, as well as in dairy production or pig meat (e.g. the creation of Cooperl Arc Atlantique on January 1, 2009, which is now the first French pig slaughtergroup with 25% of the French slaughterings). The good results of the 2009 cereal harvest look like good news in this dark overview (see Table 1), with a crop of 69.6 million tonnes (+7% above the average of 2004-2008).


Beef markets: imbalance expected in 2009

In 2009, the decrease of the community dairy cows herd may continue because of the fall of the milk price. The net production of young bulls may stay close to the 2008 level thanks to the growth of the nursing livestock and the supply of crossbreed calves from the calves for slaughter production. The net production of oxen should keep decreasing. A supply-demand imbalance may be expected in 2009 as the European consumption should remain low. The meat prices may thus lower, especially during the first semester.


In France, the production may increase by 1 to 2%, because of the rise of cows and young bulls slaughterings. This could induce a reduction of meat prices whereas the prices of grazing males should grow thanks to the resumption of exports.


Poultry markets: drop of production

For poultry, a drop of production is registered during the first semester of 2009 compared to the same period of 2008 (-4.4% of broiler slaughterings and -5% of table egg production) and this decreasing trend is also observed in the consumption (-1.6% broiler consumption during the second trimester 2009).


French poultry extra-EU exports have jumped in 2008, due to strong demand in the Middle East, Russia an sub-Saharan Africa. Shipments to the EU-27, however, covering products with higher added value, remained on a downward trend. At the same time, imports continued to rise at a steady pace.


Pig markets: price decreases

A decrease of price is also observed by the French pig producers, with an average price at €1.189/kg at Plérin (reference quotation for France) during the seven first months of 2009 instead of €1.236/kg for the same period of 2008 (-3.80%). 


Table 1. 2009 French crop production estimates (at August 1, 2009).

 
Surface (1,000 ha)
Yield (q/ha)
Production
(1,000 t)
Production 09/08
(%)
Cereals:
9,524
73
69,565
-1
Soft wheat
4,893
73.7
36,076
-2.2
Hard wheat
431
48.7
2,100
-0.1
Barley
1,837
68.5
12,581
3.4
Oats
105
48.1
503
6.6
Rye
25
48.8
123
-0.1
Triticale
350
56
1,960
7.6
Maize
1,743
89.2
15,557
-2.8
Oilseeds:
2,176
32.6
7,093
11
Rape
1,457
36.4
5,306
12.4
Sunflower
685
24.7
1,692
5.2
Soya
35
27.2
95
49.9
Protegineous:
190
49.1
931
20.6
Dry peas
110
48.2
529
17.4
Tick beans
76
51.5
393
24.7
Source: Agreste
 
Table 2. Main French livestock census.

Animals
Number of head in 2008
2008/2007 (%)
Dairy cows
3,858,531
99.7
Beef cows
4,252,912
100.1
Total cows
8,111,443
99.9
Total cattle older than 2 years
2,463,793
103.2
Total other cattle, 1 to 2 years
3,553,141
102.9
Total cattle of less than 1 year
5,759,081
99.6
Total cattle
19,887,458
100.7
Total pigs
14,805,557
100.3
Total goats
1,224,391
99.8
Total sheep
8,187,329
96.8
 

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