Grow your own

Hi. Would be interested in hearing from anyone who is living in France and running a small holding. Any problems, solutions or antidotes would be welcomed. From a few chickens and veg through to producing meat.
Is it the same as in the UK? Can you claim subsidies whilst not necessarily farming the land?

Sorry but I know tot all about running a small holding which leads me to ask - if you’re not farming the land, what are the subsidies for?

Steve… I will talk with a local farmer…

what are these UK subsidies that you talk of ??

Well, keeping a few chickens and animals is fine, most people in the country do it, but strictly for home consumption (meat) or a very small subisidiary income, and they certainly don’t get subsidies.

I’m not a smallholder but I have friends who run a small Charolais farm and and we’ve often talked about the differences between the French and UK farming, so my comments are basically what I’ve picked up from them. They’re not militants and they don’t hold with burning tyres and smashing supermarkets, they suffer a bit from the tight regulations and they don’t agree with all the policies, but overall they believe that France has the right system, and it has looked after them well, though it’s incredible to me how hard they work.

UK smallholdings seem to be a convenient way of being a farmer while not being a farmer, but in France, either you are a farmer, or you keep off their patch. As you must know if you’ve read about farmers’ protests in France, farming here is very “unionised”. The farming organisations have a serious lot of power - land sales, prices, subsidies, checking the qualifications of new farmers, etc - and just about everyone who farms the land has to be registered and paying their subs (not cheap). The first thing you would need to write on any form to do with farming is your registration number, and what the farmers would do if they found out someone who wasn’t “one of them” was getting their subsidies, don’t bear thinking about. The flipside is that when you are registered you are well protected because you have the support of the union and all of France’s farmers on your side, and you get expert advice on all things farming and maybe grants as well.

If you’re serious about this then when you’ve decided near enough what area you want to be in, you need to arrange a meeting with the local MSA representative. Apart from anything else, some of the rules are regional, depending on the quality of the land and the desired land use pattern in that particular part of France - so in some areas you would be allowed and even encouraged to use the land in a way that wouldn’t be permitted in other areas.

I suppose if you were feeling philosophical and full of sh1te, you could say the big difference is that in the UK you buy a piece of land and it’s yours to do pretty much what you want with it, but in France, as a landowner you are regarded more as the custodian of a little piece of France, to use it for the Common Good…

Stella, subsidies are paid to the owners of agricultural land and it is up to them what tbey fo with it.

Landowners usually have entitlements from the RPA. The more I read about the “French Way” the more there’s to learn. And like everything in life something’s you agree with and others you don’t. But it’s good to be able to listen to other people’s points of view!

Subsidies for what?? We have agri land, yet no subsidies, and in addition to that, if we have a bad season, there is no “farmer’s allowance” for making up the deficit. Last year we lost 75 beehives due to flooding in the valley, no subsidy from any of the governing bodies, and the insurance company refused to help because it wasn’t “declared a state of emergency”…
Farmers in Frane for the most part, are on their own.

Hi Zoe, Stella was asking about subsidies paid in UK, which equates to the single farm payment.
This comes from the EU, so there should be an equivalent in France.
Also, there is a special subsidy paid in France to young farmers which is not available.
I am sorry you lost your hives, that is really hard.

I’d still like to know what the UK subsidies are for if you’re not farming the land?

Substides or entitlements that you can claim are to help financially with the up keep of the footpaths and hedge rows to name a few. It’s not so much as what they are paid for it’s who claims them.

if you google U.K. Land owners you will see who owns a lot of land and what industry they are in. You can draw your own conclusions from there.

As a smallholder I rely on them to help make a smaller loss than I would have.

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The original question was to see if there was any sustides that can be claimed in France. Having read the “Various” journals the answer is dependant on what side of the fence you sit.
I wouldnt ask fir anything more than my contempories only that we play on a level field.

If I may lighten things a little. Seen in a farmers Mitsubishi pickup at the auction last week “Buy British”…

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Having been farming/smallholding 29Ha here, for the past ten years, my advice would be:

Don’t start along this road unless you are excessively motivated.

The PAC as it is called here is at the moment “in crisis”, and its future after 2020 is not certain.
You will need autorisations to exercise your activity (droit d’exploiter) from DDT and MSA. Your engagements involve very very complicated administration (even for the french). And depending on your circumstances, you may end up paying more in MSA contributions than you recieve from PAC. Most ‘primes’ are not only related to SAU but now also to UGB. If that is gobbldygook to you, take a visit tou your local Chambre d’agriculture site, and see it you can decode them to give you an idea of the admin tasks ahead.

Finally, I would suspect that if you have a significant amount of ‘interesting’ agricultural land, there may well be a queue of agriculteurs looking to pre-empt your activity. Perhaps consider planting fruit trees. That way you can hang on to your land.

Should you wish to chat, you are most welcome if you are not too far from 46190

Thank you Richard. Definitely food for thought. We are over to the Dordoyne area in may to have a look around. So much to take in. Obviously not sure of which way things will go at moment but that’s life!

You have to be careful with the MSA.
If you do not contribute enough they refuse to refund you at pension time. Ie picking apples etc for a temp job.
More seriously a farmer I know who could not contribute his share was taken to a tribunal and had to sell land and stock to satisfy their demands.
So before you join make sure you have total confidence in your agri project

No different from RSI/URSSAF then…
A number of the comments have confirmed what I had gathered from my farming friends, that in France you either are a farmer or you aren’t. There’s no “amateur” option where you’re allowed to earn a bit of money and keep it all for yourself without being obliged to share with the state. Once you overstep the stage of having a few chickens, a goat and a vegetable patch alongside of your main money-earning activity, and start putting in some working hours on the land and marketing your products, you’re a farmer and you register and pay your dues, or as Claudia says the MSA will make sure that you do.

Exactly rigid system
But other unions exist fnsea etc. Talk to them as some militants want to shake up things a good deal so that amateurs swing gently into professionals. The way to shake up is to participate and suggest alternatives.
The way to avoid feeding the big mouth of the state is via neighboors schemes, crowdfunding, Sel schemes barter etc. Following the depression these coops prosper. You expect the state to have a go at them.
Urssaff was good to my company. They obliged them to pay more as most employees went to the Prudhommes. So the state is not that nasty all the time and Inspections du Travail do their bit too.

Funnily enough, I was chatting to a local viticulteur about this just yesterday, he is packing it in, pulling up the vines he only planted two years ago in the Chautagne because he isn’t getting any help. He went to the Chambre d’ag, he signed up as a JA, didn’t get the DJA because of some loophole… didn’t get the subvention for transport or accessibility either, and basically, he bought an old vinyard, threw a load of money into it, and in the end didn’t even qualify for chômage when he needed a bit of help in the off season last year. Now he finds himself trying to run his flaililing business while working part time for another viticulter, until he has worked enough to get chomage and re-educate himself in a different field, because for him, working for someone is not the goal.
We bought our current home from a milk farmer that was running out of patience with the dept of ag’s reluctance to help out when seasons were hard. He sold his cattle, his machines, and his shed, citing “lack of help” as the main reason.
Where the money comes from in the EU, I have no idea, but it’s not going toany farmers I know.
Then again, we’re talking about actual farmers here, and small holding is nothing like that. try asking for a subsidy for that, and you’ll be sent packing and labelled an “illuminée”… if you can afford to have animals, they reckon, you can afford to look after them.

Hmmmm…You seem to have a downer on Smallholders. Smallholdrs work just as hard, if not harder than the “Full-time” farmers with less and for less.

If you are in the Dordogne, I think the best thing you can do is join an association such as solidarite paysanne. Fees are about 35€ and they have a good pool of volunteers who know exactly how it works in your area.
They may even speak English.

Good luck.