Emmanuel Macron promises to stop foreign investors buying up French farms after China land grab

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Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech to the young French farmers invited at the Elysee Palace before the opening of the 2018 Paris International Agricultural Show in Paris (Photo:  REUTERS)
The Telegraph | 22 February 2018

Emmanuel Macron promises to stop foreign investors buying up French farms after China land grab  

by Rory Mulholland
 
President Emmanuel Macron has promised farmers that he will stop foreign investors buying up land in France, after a Chinese fund purchased swathes of rich agricultural land in the centre of the country.
 
The promise came as the centrist leader hosted a lunch for around 1,000 young farmers at the Elysée place, an event seen by critics as a bid to buy their goodwill ahead of the annual Paris farm show where he is due to make the traditional presidential visit on Saturday.
 
"For me, French agricultural lands are strategic investments upon which our sovereignty depends, so we can't allow hundreds of hectares of land to be bought by foreign powers without us knowing the aims of these purchases," Mr Macron told the farmers.
 
"We will very obviously put in place regulatory safeguards and will work with you... to put an end to what happened," he said.
 
The president, who has been accused of neglecting rural France in favour of the country’s big cities and its more dynamic economic sectors, was referring to the purchase of 2,700 hectares of prime farmland by a Chinese investor in the cereal-growing Allier and Indre regions over the past two years.
 
 French farmers drive their tractors on the A7 highway to protest changes in underprivileged farm area's mapping
French farmers drive their tractors on the A7 highway to protest changes in underprivileged farm area's mapping CREDIT:  REUTERS
The purchase provoked an outcry among French farmers, and the rural association Safar called on the state the government to put an end to the increase in financial investors, rather than farmers, buying land.
 
Australia announced new restrictions on foreign buyers of agricultural land earlier this month, while concerns about Chinese land purchases abroad have been voiced from Africa to Canada in the past.
 
Chinese agriculture companies have been buying or leasing farms abroad for decades as they sought to feed an increasingly wealthy population of 1.4 billion people at home, but their foreign land purchases rose sharply after grain prices soared during the world food crisis of 2006-2008.
 
Mr Macron also spoke to the young farmers about the European Union’s negotiations with the Mercosur bloc of South American countries over a wide-ranging trade agreement, in which agriculture is proving a major stumbling block.
 
 Emmanuel Macron talks with guests next to French Agriculture minister Stephane Travert after he delivered a speech to the new generation of French farmers invited at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on February 22
Emmanuel Macron talks with guests next to French Agriculture minister Stephane Travert after he delivered a speech to the new generation of French farmers invited at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on February 22 CREDIT: AFP
French farmers last week drove tractors through town centres and blocked highways on to oppose extra agricultural imports from South America, which they say are produced with lower standards than in Europe.
 
“There will never be hormone(-injected) beef in France,” the president of the EU's biggest agricultural economy said.
 
“There will be no reduction in our quality, social, environmental or sanitary standards in these negotiations,” Mr Macron said.
Original source: Telegraph
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