Romain Rouillard / Photo credit: Frederic Scheiber / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP 6:18 p.m., January 23, 2024

For several days, farmers have been making their anger heard throughout France.

At the heart of their grievances, standards, considered stifling, but also the impact of inflation on an already unprofitable activity.

If disparities exist, depending on the type of farm, the average agricultural income struggles to reach the minimum wage.

The roots of their anger are quite multiple, but converge on a common suffering: that of lack of means.

For several days, farmers have been making their grievances heard across the four corners of France, by driving their tractors into towns or by blocking certain motorways, notably the A64 which links Toulouse to Bayonne.

Operators say they are suffocated by the standards with which they must comply, point out unfair competition from certain countries not subject to the same rules as them and denounce, together, a standard of living that is often insufficient to make ends meet. . 

18% of agricultural households live below the poverty line

According to figures published by INSEE in 2021, the average annual income of agricultural households amounted to 52,400 euros.

An honest sum, but which corresponds to that collected by the entire household and not by a single farmer.

Moreover, INSEE specifies that only a third of these 52,400 comes from agricultural activity, or 17,700 euros.

Which is equivalent, each month, to 1,475 euros gross, where the minimum wage today stands at 1,766 euros.

The statistical institute also specifies that half of agricultural households must be satisfied with an annual income of just over 22,000 euros, while 18% of them live below the poverty line. 



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These data also hide significant disparities, depending on the type of exploitation considered.

Thus, wine growers or cereal growers are generally much better off than cattle breeders whose 10% of poorest households have to deal with a standard of living below 10,000 euros per year.

In this category, the poverty rate rises to 25%.

“In cereals, there are ups and downs, because we are on world markets which rise and fall depending on the harvests. But in livestock farming, we are on fairly local markets which do not change very much. At this point, prices are falling and production costs continue to increase,” explains Jean-Baptiste Moreau, farmer and former MP. 

An average income that has plummeted in 30 years

From these gross sums, which are sometimes modest, a certain number of charges and operating costs must also be deducted.

"There is maintenance and the cost of the equipment. Especially since we impose a lot of standards on tractors, to limit pollution, which do not exist in a certain number of countries in the world. That increases the cost for purchase and also for repairs. Costs out of proportion to our neighbors", points out Jean-Baptiste Moreau.

Not to mention the cost of labor, much higher in France than in many European countries.

According to a note from the Ministry of Agriculture, published last January, farmers' income has fallen by 40% in the space of 30 years.

A decline increased in recent months by inflation and the explosion in energy prices.

This Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron asked his government to provide “concrete solutions” to farmers, while the FNSEA, the leading agricultural union, promised “a certain number of actions” all week.