The “president of the cities” on the farm. After announcing Wednesday the release of additional funds for the revitalization of city centers, Emmanuel Macron was Friday alongside farmers. The Head of State arrived in the early afternoon in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence for the 7th edition of the “Terres de Jim” meetings, an agricultural fair organized by the union of young farmers and aimed at educate the general public about agricultural practices. Emmanuel Macron announced a reform of crop insurance there. “We are going to create the French crop insurance system,” he said.
“We have decided to put 600 million euros a year to finance the system, these are state and European funds that we will mobilize”, specified the President of the Republic. The objective: to encourage farmers to subscribe more massively to crop insurance. Already on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex had announced the establishment of a new system for farmers. “We will present, in the coming days, a new harvest insurance scheme, supported by the public authorities, which will guarantee farmers better coverage of losses caused by natural disasters”, declared the Prime Minister during a press briefing. at the end of the government’s back-to-school seminar.
“We must change the insurance culture in agriculture”
Currently, farmers can take out private harvest insurance, and benefit from a subsidy paid by the Common Agricultural Policy for contributions. But insurance contracts remain expensive for operators who in some sectors are struggling to make ends meet. “For 30 years, I paid for hail risk insurance, but I was damaged only once and my farm was affected by 50%, I would have done better not to pay for this insurance! “, explained to Public Senate last April Daniel Laurent, senator LR of Charente-Maritime, also a winegrower. Only 30% of agricultural land is insured against climatic hazards, according to a figure regularly quoted by unions and insurers.
“We need to change the insurance culture in agriculture. The farmer must bear in mind that the cost of insurance is included in the automatic costs of his farms,” explains Henri Cabanel, senator for Hérault (RDSE group). “Given the situation in agriculture, when you have a farm in difficulty, you sort through the charges and the first thing that jumps out, generally, is the insurance,” laments this winegrower. However, he believes that, more than an incentive, it must go through an obligation. “Without it, we will not be able to increase the penetration rate and therefore lower contract prices,” he argues.
In June 2020, a resolution adopted by the Senate listed several recommendations to promote the development of crop insurance. The elected officials recommended in particular to “improve the articulation between the current tools for managing climate risks”, that is to say to simplify the insurance systems, but also to raise the threshold for triggering the level of losses of 30% to 20%.
“We have to make the system simpler, we are going to set up a single point of contact for each farmer. It must not be a battle between the insurer, the chambers of agriculture and the state services, ”also promised Emmanuel Macron. “This simplification must also be felt in the documents to be completed, which are often very complex, which discourages many farmers from starting the process”, emphasizes Henri Cabanel. “The shock of simplification, we are told about it, but it is still not there! “, he mocks.
“The response to the damage suffered by farmers must be territorialised, reactive and adapted to the growing phenomena which are suffered by farms”, estimated the President of the Republic. “Global warming increases meteorological events that impact harvests, the frequency of climatic events must be taken into account to rethink crop insurance”, insists Nicole Bonnefoy, PS senator for Charente, rapporteur in 2019 for a mission on the climate risk management and the evolution of our compensation schemes.
The system of agricultural disasters
“Speed and responsiveness”, hammered Emmanuel Macron again, regretting that it takes on average “nine months” to reimburse farmers who fall under the “agricultural calamities” scheme. Faced with a major meteorological event, farmers can indeed benefit from the National Agricultural Risk Management Fund to deal with both harvest and loss of funds (stocks, ditches, paths, dead animals outside buildings , etc.) uninsurable.
To receive compensation, the operator must show a physical loss rate of 30% of the annual production, and the amount of damage caused must exceed 13% of the theoretical gross product of the operation (counting the aid from the Policy agricultural community). It is also necessary that the amount of damage is greater than 1000 euros. The compensation procedure is generally initiated by the prefect who will first have carried out an investigation to define the scope of the damage. Farmers also have the option of submitting individual dossiers.
At the beginning of April, the violent episode of frost which hit ten metropolitan regions, compromising several tens of thousands of hectares, prompted the government to exceptionally beef up the aid systems. Prime Minister Jean Castex then announced the release of aid worth one billion for the farmers and arboriculturists affected, as well as the implementation of emergency measures, such as exemption from social security charges, property tax relief on the unbuilt, and the mobilization of partial activity schemes. Finally, under the agricultural disaster scheme, the compensation rate for arborists has also been increased to 40% of losses, ie the maximum ceiling authorized by European regulations.
Prevention, a blind spot in the management of agricultural disasters?
For Laurent Duplomb, senator LR of Haute-Loire and president of the Agriculture and food study group “the National Fund for risk management in agriculture has difficulty in existing because the State draws on it for its cash flow”. He believes that farmers would use them less if more emphasis were placed on the development of preventive systems, in particular irrigation networks. “We cannot tell farmers that we are going to give them the means to recover after a climatic hazard, without helping them to fight against these same hazards. »