French organic farmers 'forgotten' by the CAP

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Gwénaël Floch runs a small but productive organic farm in Brittany, north-west France. He pays himself, like his employees, the minimum legal wage, while he also has bank loans to repay on initial investment in the business. He receives little more than 300 euros per year from the EU’s annual 58-billion-euro Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies, supposedly promoting organic agriculture, and which will be even less after the introduction of the new CAP in 2023. That is when organic small farms in France will lose the aid, however small, they are currently entitled to, and which prompted farmers to protest in Paris earlier this month. Amélie Poinssot reports from Brittany.

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Sitting in the clammy atmosphere of the greenhouse on the Ferme du château, employees Xenia, Sina and Marine were patiently removing from young cucumber plants the “suckers”, which are the small lateral stems growing off the main vine and which can stunt its growth and yield. At the peak of the season, the vines will reach 3 metres in height, laden with cucumbers and the vegetation will be so luxuriant that making one’s way through the greenhouse will be a challenge. But in early June, it was the first courgettes which were being picked, with an initial harvest of around 400 kilos.