President Macron woos the French wine industry

Monday March 04 2019 by Vitisphere

As he took time out for a tasting with wine industry representatives, President Macron backtracked on his short comment earlier in the day about glyphosate-free vineyards.As he took time out for a tasting with wine industry representatives, President Macron backtracked on his short comment earlier in the day about glyphosate-free vineyards. - Photo credit : Bertrand Collard

It was 9pm by the time Emmanuel Macron stopped at the wine pavilion during his visit to the agricultural fair in Paris on February 23rd. No sooner had the French President arrived than Jean-Marie Barrillère, chairman of the national wine marketing board federation, got down to business. “Our future depends on exports. However, to export to the European Union, we need a tax representative in each country, which makes life complicated for winegrowers”, he explained. The President listened, made an effort to understand and asked his agricultural advisor to note what had just been said.

Amidst the bustle of wine tastings came the day’s headline story, in the form of a statement by Emmanuel Macron in his morning speech: “I think we can make the French vineyards the first in the world to forego glyphosate”. As soon as Jérôme Despey, chairman of the wine committee of FranceAgriMer mentioned the subject, there was uproar. “[Without glyphosate], in steeply sloping and terraced vineyards, tillage creates erosion”, said Despey. Although the general interest media did not grasp the challenge involved, the French President fully understood the implications. In a separate comment, his agricultural adviser explained:  “We are going to give up 85% of glyphosate usage. The remaining 15% are dead-end situations - they are sloping vineyards and areas of farming where soils have to be retained”. The weed killer will continue to be used in both cases.

Before leaving, Emmanuel Macron summarised the insight gleaned during his visit. “We're going to look closely at exporting to Europe”, he promised industry representatives, who were delighted by his visit and impressed by his openness at the end of such a busy day.

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