ASSEMBLEE PERMANENTE DES CHAMBRES D'AGRICULTURE
Description of organisation
The French Chambers of Agriculture are self-governing public bodies, managed by elected representatives. Their role is on the one hand to represent the farmers and foresters to local and national authorities and on the other hand to offer a broad range of services to farmers, foresters and rural stakeholders. They work as a decentralized network comprising 86 Chambers of Agriculture at “département” (=district) level, 13 regional Chambers of Agriculture, the national organization APCA and the academic institute UNILASALLE ( former ESITPA). The Chambers have 4 200 elected members and employ approximately 8 000 permanent staff.
The UNILASALLE & APCA team hosted the LANDMARK Roundtable 2 past November 2015.
Description of the unit participating in LANDMARK
Six entities of the Chambers’ network are involved in the project
On the one hand, it plays a role of expertise, representation and communication at national level (especially on agricultural and rural policies); on the other hand, it plays a role of network and project co-ordination on various topics. It also manages various common services for all French Chambers of Agriculture, like information systems (websites and decision support tools) and a training centre for agricultural advisers. The APCA employs about 175 staff. Three departments of APCA are involved in the LANDMARK project: the department for European and International Affairs, the Environment Department and the Department for innovation, development and farming practices.
ESITPA – La Salle – Beauvais
It is an academic institute for sustainable agriculture, food and agribusiness, which counts 500 students, provides 4 different study programmes and provides an agricultural engineer diploma (“ingénieur”=Master’s level in France). It runs a multidisciplinary research unit named “AGRI’TERR”, which employs 17 researchers, 6 post-doctorate researchers and 7 PhD students, with two main research axes: 1. The biological and physico-chemical characterization of soils, and the performance of cropping systems; 2. The non-food valorisation of agricultural co-products.
Four regional Chambers of Agriculture
At local level, the Chambers of Agriculture are responsible for farmers’ and foresters’ representation, information, technical and economic advice, training (continuing education), on-farm demonstrations and experiments, coordination or support to agricultural and rural development projects. The Chambers consider that group approaches are particularly efficient for agricultural and rural development and therefore they support about 2 000 groups throughout France (1 400 farmers’ discussion groups, 400 multi-actor groups and “ad hoc” project groups). One of the current strategic priorities of the Chambers is to develop and disseminate innovation (new techniques combining high productivity, low inputs and adaptation to climate change; new organisation of farm work; new agri-food chains to strengthen local economy). Therefore, the Chambers are currently identifying “innovation groups” in each district, which aim at developing innovative solutions to increase the economic, social and environmental performance of farms and rural SMEs. Four Chambers of Agriculture are particularly involved in the LANDMARK project:
- The regional Chamber of Agriculture of Centre Val de Loire: it employs 20 experts in agronomy, environment, biodiversity, organic production, breeding…, and coordinates six district Chambers of Agriculture, which employ around 400 staff (including 250 farm advisers specialized in agronomy and livestock production). More than 50% of the farmers in Centre region are involved in “agricultural development groups” supported by the Chambers of Agriculture.
- The regional Chamber of Agriculture of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (East of France): there are 30 staff in the regional team and 160 staff in the district teams.
- The regional Chamber of Agriculture of Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées (South-West of France): the regional chamber and the 8 district chambers of agriculture employ approximately 650 staff in total (including advisers, trainers and administrative staff).
- The regional Chamber of Agriculture of Aquiaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes (West of France): the regional Chamber employs 40 staff and the 4 district Chambers employs approximately 300 staff.