French agricultural exception: what does this idea taken up by Attal to appease farmers mean?

The Prime Minister defended the existence of a “French agricultural exception” in his general policy speech to the Assembly.

French agricultural exception: what does this idea taken up by Attal to appease farmers mean?

The Prime Minister defended the existence of a “French agricultural exception” in his general policy speech to the Assembly. An ambivalent concept.

What is the agricultural exception? For two weeks, a large part of the political class seems to agree on this notion, brandished by Gabriel Attal in front of the farmers. “I say it here solemnly: there is and there must be a French agricultural exception,” insisted the Prime Minister in his general policy declaration to the Assembly on Tuesday, January 30, arguing that agriculture “constitutes the one of the foundations of our identity, of our traditions". Where does this concept come from? What meaning does it take on in the mouth of the head of government?

The notion of “agricultural exception” is inspired by that of “French cultural exception”. The latter refers to legal measures aimed at removing culture from economic laws alone, by recognizing its ethical and social character, by subsidizing it and protecting it through regulations. Likewise, to speak of an agricultural exception would therefore amount to asserting that French agriculture has issues that go beyond the economy and must be removed and protected from the laws of the market.

The agricultural union Coordination Rurale, located on the right or even the extreme right, has defended the notion of French agricultural exception for 25 years, arguing that "like culture, agriculture is an economic activity so vital that "it needs to be protected from free trade", recalls Franceinfo. In a press release dated January 23, the communist deputies in turn recognized the need to “establish an agricultural exception” by removing French agriculture “from liberal logic”. At the heart of this demand, we therefore find opposition to the free trade treaties signed by the European Union, the heart of the farmers' anger.

However, by advocating the French agricultural exception, Gabriel Attal does not exactly intend to extract agriculture from the market. “Leaving free trade agreements is the death of French agriculture,” declared its Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, on January 31 on Sud radio, affirming that the sector could not give up its exports. . And the Minister of Agriculture adds nuance: “We need free trade agreements that are fair, including on the environmental issue.”

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