Today we have to acknowledge that
agriculture has affected the environment in a way that is too much
for the environment to absorb. We really need to change, meaning that we must develop
an efficient economic system if possible, including a restauration
of the environment. We have never been so invested, so involved in a collective awareness
of this environmental dimension. Welcome to our summit in Lisieux. The purpose of this morning
and of those few days in Normandy is to lay the foundations
of a collective thinking on today’s and tomorrow’s agriculture. How to design a sustainable agriculture, respecting resources,
an economically viable agriculture. How is the future CAP going
to help the farmer take risks, to change the components of his system? How it puts him at the heart
of this decision-making system and doesn’t impose upon him
heaven sent changes on the models but bottom-up innovations. There is no way for a business or a farm to make
such a dramatic shift without risks. We will end up buying the production
we have refused to do at home. We have a big challenge consisting
in bringing change to agriculture step by step, to avoid losing farmers
in the process, to make sure that local agriculture
will tackle this issue and that some agriculture will endure to avoid importing produces
that do not meet our expectations. Agro-ecology is quite simple. It consists in examining what is grown, livestock production, crop production,
as ecosystems. What is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem is a living community where there are a lot of species belonging to the animal or vegetal
kingdom, plants, animals, microbes, living together,
with a lot of regulations between them. And agro-ecology, that could be defined either as a science,
a practice or a social movement. In the real world,
we always try to use the same process. If we choose the right diversity
to integrate into this community, we are going to get
biological regulations back. What agro-ecology shows is that by increasing functional biodiversity,
we increase biological regulation. Farmers say: “I apply agro-ecology,
but there is no real certification label in France or in Europe.” It is not that easy to standardize,
there is not one set of specifications. Our parents were told they had
to “produce to feed”, just after the war. Today, our mission is still to produce, but also to respect the environment and to be connected with the citizens too. They have a real interest
in what we are doing. If we change the rules for the next CAP, all the farmers will get into it. The purpose of this summit is to tackle all the projects implemented in Normandy
regarding agro-ecology. And in that context, the region chose
to present Agro-EcoLIF, because it aims at producing flax
with less chemical input. Agro-ecology relies on 3 pillars: no tillage, perennial plants and legumes. We have these three aspects here,
which show how interesting the EIP is. Getting in, starting
a completely original approach, a great collaboration between
cereal growers and breeders in which innovation and this project enable new things to be done. What brings us together today is the innovation policy in agriculture
set up at the European level, with new tools since 2014,
the main new tool being the EIP-Agri. There are different kinds of projects,
big transnational projects funded by Horizon 2020 program and more local projects
funded by the CAP which are called Operational groups. Lots of OGs are here
to present their work. And all the OGs, working separately,
in their countries, in their regions are given the chance to meet here to share their knowledge and ideas and
then implement them throughout Europe. Innovation shows itself
in different aspects. We often work
on merely technical aspects, but there is also innovation
in organization, innovation helps in many ways. There is some techno innovation
in the field of precision farming, but few were presented. Most innovations were organizational
innovations between farmers, innovation in interaction
with the citizens and how to better show what farmers
are doing and see the added value. When people are talking about agriculture,
I am used to transferring it to forestry. In fact, it is obvious that the questions
are really cross-disciplinary. Are the systems of production
still acceptable for a society which is looking for nature? The aspect to bring ideas from elsewhere
to work on territory projects. It is new and it is starting. We need to give structure to this aspect,
because it is a bit disorganized. But it is starting to appear. There is an amazing variety
of innovations, which is a real asset. We work with a multi-actor or participatory approach, where we manage to make
researchers, farmers, counselors, people from food industry
or bio-sourced products, work together. Agro-ecology is a way
to better understand the ecosystems within which
we produce food and manage agriculture. There is a strong interest
from the EIP-Agri to work on this, because it is a subject that calls for
a lot of cooperation between different kinds of actors. These participatory approaches
as they are organized within the EIP, lend themselves well
to this work on agro-ecology. That’s my partner. Out of 250 counselors… Farmers are gathered. There is
a moral commitment for several years. This way of working through networks
also allows us to get an overview of how the colleagues in the other
European territories have worked, of some innovation systems
they have developed, particularly those enabling transfer
and adoption by the breeders, which is the main difficulty
we face in our projects. We are able to deal with the technique
and the innovation within but ensuring the breeders really adopt
them is one of the obstacles, one of the difficulties
that all of us have to face today. Today, we are providing much
individualized advice to our farmers and maybe tomorrow we should
focus on supporting groups and create events like this one,
maybe on various themes and organize little workshops like here
for farmers to make them work on, dealing with particular themes, having a pause and thinking together, instead of living our everyday life
with one-time solutions just the way we do
in our advising work today. What I really enjoyed during this Summit
are the exchanges and their variety with the workshops,
the round tables and the field visits and even during the dinner yesterday,
the exchanges were very productive.