Sean English Cahir IFA Branch winner of the 2011 IFA/FBD European Scholarship tour to England and France was one of a group of over 30 farmers drawn from IFA’s 947 branches for their voluntary help in developing the Association’s membership.
Here he gives a brief account of his experience on his recent visit and reports on the opportunities and challenges his French counterparts are experiencing in the continued challenge of market volatility, climate change pressures, and gearing up for the challenges of the CAP post 2013.
“Farmers in France have expansion in mind post CAP 2013. The CAP reform is a major concern for the French and their main emphasis is on maintaining a Single Farm Payment scheme that is aimed at the active productive farmers.
“Our group travelled through the Massif Central area, where an abundance of fertile, free draining soil ideal for cereal production is to be seen, but drought can be an issue in these areas and methods of irrigation is essential. In the Bourges and Vichy areas livestock Production is more evident with Charolais being the predominant breed.
“One of the trip highlights was visiting the Lelevage Show in the Clermont region where we gained firsthand experience of the breeding programmes the French Farmers have in place. The French meat market is dominated by cow beef and huge selection of highly breed Limousin and Charolais livestock were on show.”
In addition, the Irish group had a chance to witness Irish food exports to France and in particular the impact Irish beef and lamb was having on the French retail and catering trade.
“The “Rungis trading Market in the centre of Paris is home to a 240 hectare site, employing over 12,000 people and has a turnover of nearly 8 billion Euro annually. Beef, lamb fruit, dairy, veg and fish and flowers are sold wholesale at this market which starts at 5am every morning. Irish Beef and Lamb products are supplied in Rungis by all the major Irish processors. Bord Bia have an experienced team of people in France that are working hard at the marketing and promotional of Irish produce.”
This was a tremendous trip and I wish to thank IFA and FBD for having given me the opportunity of this very educational week and for fitting so much into it