Mrs. Aurore Saison
Avenue George V 9
The French Chambers of Agriculture are self-governing public bodies, managed by elected farmers. Their role is on the one hand to represent the farmers to local, regional and national authorities and on the other hand to offer a broad range of services to farmers and other rural stakeholders. The Chambers’ elections are organized every 6 years and the last elections took place between January and March 2013. The French Chambers of Agriculture work as a decentralized network comprising 86 Chambers of Agriculture at district level (“département"), 13 regional Chambers of Agriculture and the national umbrella organization APCA. The Chambers have 4 200 elected members and about 8 000 permanent staff, including about 1300 advisers in the livestock production. The Chambers of Agriculture are involved in nearly all agricultural sectors: plant and animal production; agricultural economics; farm management and strategy; farm tourism and local food products (production, processing and marketing); rural development and local planning; environment and management of natural resources; agricultural and rural policies. In these various sectors, their activities include information, advice, training, experimentation and demonstration, supporting groups of farmers (~1800 permanent groups), follow-up of “reference farms” (~3 000 including ~2 000 livestock farms), expertise and studies, project co-ordination, and communication. Concerning research and development, the Chambers manage or are involved in about 50 experimental stations, including 10 stations on bovine production, and they implement numerous on-farm trials and demonstrations in connection with farmers’ groups. Furthermore, they are involved in several national R&D networks (“RMT” and “GIS”), especially the thematic network RMT “Prairies demain” (ie. “Grasslands tomorrow”). The APCA employs about 175 staff. It plays a role of expertise, representation, communication and network coordination at national and European level. It also manages various common services for all French Chambers of Agriculture: a training centre for agricultural advisers (“Resolia”), information systems including databases and decision support tools for farmers and advisers (SIRCA), national communication campaigns like INNOV’ACTION (demonstration farms), a web-based platform dedicated to agri-tourism and local products (“Bienvenue à la Ferme”), ...
Four Regional Chambers of Agriculture (CRA) will be involved in the thematic network “Inno4Grass”:
1- Chamber of Agriculture of Vosges The Chamber of Agriculture of Vosges:
- Most of the regional coverage of grassland and breeding farms are located in the area of the Vosges, so most of the actions will be done in this area.
- Grasslands represent 70% of the farmland in this area, so advisers and technicians of Chamber of Agriculture of Vosges are highly specialized in breeding, grassland and forage production, and that is why most of the actions will be carry out directly by experts employed by the Chamber of Agriculture of Vosges.
2- Regional Chamber of Agriculture of Centre-Val de Loire
The regional Chamber of Agriculture of Centre-Val de Loire employs 20 experts in agronomy, environment, biodiversity, organic production, breeding…, and coordinates six district Chambers of Agriculture, which employ around 400 staff (including 250 farm advisers specialized in agronomy and livestock production). More than 50% of the farmers in Centre region are involved in “agricultural development groups” supported by the Chambers of Agriculture.
3- Regional Chamber of Agriculture of Normandy (CRAN)
The CRAN employs 52 people, including five people in the livestock department. It coordinates 5 district chambers of agriculture, by leading thematic networks, pooling of resources and competencies to provide an efficient local service, well-adapted to the needs of sustainable agriculture. The CRAN and the 5 district chambers are the main contributors to participate in two key organizations, which are:
- The Normandy ruminant livestock research centre “POLE RUMINANT”
“POLE RUMINANT” was created in 2013 and is led by CRAN. The aim of this centre is to strengthen resources and to organize research actions of on ruminant breeding in Normandy. It associates the chambers of agriculture, INRA, Institut de l’Elevage, ARVALIS Institut du Végétal, livestock consultancy organisms, cattle health organisms, genetic selection organisms, agricultural colleges, AGRIAL (the biggest agricultural cooperative in Normandy: 1.35 billion litres milk collected a year) and the two regional interprofessional centres for Dairy Economy.
- The experimental dairy farm “LA BLANCHE MAISON”
LA BLANCHE MAISON is an experimental dairy farm. It has numerous partners: the Normandy Chambers of Agriculture, the French livestock Institute (Institut de l’Elevage), the French national institute for agricultural research
(INRA), the French Institute for vegetal research (ARVALIS Institut du Végétal), a livestock consultancy organism and an agricultural college. The work consists in experimenting new livestock systems, including the assessment of environmental criteria. The farm owns 70 hectares of agricultural land, including 60 hectares of grass, and 70 cows of “Normande” cattle breed. Since 2011, the experiments’ goals are to assess and compare two high economic and environmental performance dairy systems with objectives of productivity, efficiency and autonomy (maximum reduction of inputs). One of these two systems is based on grass – feeding, the other includes corn silage. The experimental dairy farm has a specific and high level experience to manage innovation in grass-based production systems.
4- Regional Chamber of Agriculture of Pays de la Loire
The network of Chambers of Agriculture of Pays de la Loire consists of one regional and five departmental Chambers of agriculture. It employs experts in large domains of agriculture (e.g. agronomy, forage production, breeding, organic farming, environment) in order to provide advices and references to farmers. In collaboration with IDELE (French livestock institute), it follows up networks of livestock farms (dairy and beef cattle, sheep). The main goal of our applied research is to improve the competitiveness of the livestock farms.