France's 'alternative' farmers point to a new rural model


French farmers last week blocked Paris with more than 1,500 tractors in the latest of a series of protests at the dire financial difficulties many now find themselves in, which they blame on ever-lower prices paid for their produce, taxes and social charges, and industry standards that are strangling them in red tape. But a growing number of smallholdings in France are successfully bucking the trend, proving that there is an economically viable alternative to the failed model of conventional farming and mass production sold on the cheap - in the form of quality produce sold directly to local outlets. Julien Sartre reports from Brittany.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

Dairy farmer Sébastien Le Bodo guided his small refrigerated truck along the snaking country road, passing by a succession of woodlands and glades. “In that hangar you have 5,000 pigs,” he points out as we come level with the entrance to a farm close to his own. “The thing’s crazy.”