The French National Assembly and Senate adopted the Climate and Resilience Law on Tuesday, July 20, after months of tense debates.
The law includes measures to reduce the use of mineral nitrogen fertilizers with the aim of reducing nitrous oxide emissions by 15% from 2015 levels by 2030 and ammonia emissions by 13% by compared to 2005 levels over the same period.
Article 62 sets up a national action plan to achieve these objectives, called the “eco-nitrogen plan”, which must support changes in cultivation and agronomic practices.
If, for two consecutive years, the emission reduction targets are not met, the law provides for the introduction of a tax on the use of the fertilizers in question – a point which has caused tensions between the Senate and the National Assembly because of its punitive nature. .
The final version of the text calls on farmers to pay if they fail to reduce their emissions, while ensuring “the economic viability of the agricultural sectors concerned and by not increasing any possible distortions of competition with the measures in force in other EU Member States ”.
To avoid the stigmatization of farmers, the law also calls for the recognition and better valuation of “positive externalities of agriculture, particularly in terms of environmental services and land use planning”.
It also recommends the preservation and planting of hedges and trees between agricultural plots to store carbon, fight soil erosion and improve water quality.
French food sovereignty is also essential, the law requiring that it be “safeguarded and, for the sectors most at risk, reconquered”.
Vegetarian menus, greener and better quality products
The law also stresses the importance of healthy and sustainable food “for all” and introduces the obligation to offer vegetarian menus in school canteens at least once a week.
As an experiment, communities that so wish can also offer a daily vegetarian choice, under certain conditions to “guarantee the nutritional balance of the meals served” and meet the needs of children.
In the catering sector, all catering services that usually offer a choice of several menus will also be required to offer a vegetarian menu of the day no later than January 1, 2023.
To facilitate these changes, all culinary training courses must integrate, at the latest two years after the entry into force of the law, modules “on the health and environmental benefits of the diversification of sources of protein in human food” in their reference system. .
In addition to that, those in charge of catering will also have to “give priority to the supply of agricultural products and foodstuffs meeting quality or environmental protection requirements”.
From January 1, 2024 at the latest, at least 60% of meat and fish products served in school and collective catering and 100% of the same products served in collective restaurants managed by the State, its public establishments and public enterprises national, must use products “whose acquisition was based mainly on their performance in terms of environmental protection” which respect short circuits.
These announcements resonate with the latest developments at European level.
At the end of June, negotiators reached a preliminary agreement on the future reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP), which aims to make the sector greener and more sustainable.
A central part of the proposal on the future of the CAP are the so-called ‘eco-schemes’, which would see incentives paid to farmers who voluntarily adhere to environmentally friendly practices.
In May, lawmakers also adopted the EU’s flagship food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy, which aims, among other things, to reduce the use of chemical pesticides, fight antibiotic resistance, develop organic farming, promote animal welfare and fight against food waste.
[Edited by Josie Le Blond]