Agriculture: Dreams and challenges of the new generation

As France grapples with the loss of 100,000 farms from 2010 to 2020, largely due to an aging farmer population, a new generation of farmers rises to meet significant challenges. This article introduces Jerome, Océane, Baptiste, and Lucie, who are revitalizing farming by merging tradition with modernity. These individuals represent a vital resurgence in the sector. Join us in uncovering their motivations, the hurdles they face, and their visions for a sustainable and technologically advanced future in agriculture.  

Dreams and challenges of the new generation

Agriculture: The heart and soil of our world 


Jerome (an organic breeder and producer of poultry and cereals near Nantes) embodies the spirit of the new generation of farmers. With a sparkle in his eye and a passion for agriculture that runs deep, he shares a powerful message: 
'We are privileged to engage in one of the most magnificent professions in the world. Let no one dampen your spirits!' Despite challenges in expanding his land, Jerome remains passionate about sustainable farming, advocating for regenerative agriculture as key to combating climate change. He uses Instagram to educate others about his farming practices, emphasizing the importance of livestock in maintaining natural cycles. For Jerome, supporting and protecting French agriculture against lower standard foreign imports is crucial for the future. 


The importance of apprenticeship  


Oceane, a 21-year-old breeder and farmer in France (Haute-Saône) with a strong Instagram following of 37,000, is an advocate for sustainable agriculture and education. Poised to take over her family's farm, she uses her social media to share the realities of farming life and to promote traditional methods blended with modern technology. "Apprenticeships are vital" she insists, emphasizing the importance of hands-on training in inspiring the next generation of farmers. Her goal is to connect consumers with the agricultural world, demonstrating her commitment to animal welfare and the farming community. 

Baptiste, from a big family of farmers outside Paris, is weighing his future between traditional farming and innovative methods. He's interested in diversification as a key to sustainability. This includes exploring methanization, an eco-friendly trend for turning waste into energy, and overseeing a complete farm-to-table process - growing wheat, making flour and bread. These approaches not only promise environmental benefits but also a closer connection from the land to the consumer's table. 


The weight of paperwork  


Lucie, a 21-year-old IDREHEA student in Marseille, is focused on revolutionizing agriculture with her studies in Agronomic Law. Coming from a non-agricultural background, she brings a new perspective to the field. "It's about bringing balance" Lucie asserts, recognizing that "today's farmers are more than just cultivators; they're entrepreneurs, accountants, marketers." She's determined to ease the administrative burdens on farmers, allowing them to concentrate on farming and personal time. Lucie is also enthusiastic about the role of AI in agriculture, seeing it as an ally in crop management and predictive analytics, complementing human judgment. 


Envisioning the future: Sustainable and innovative agriculture 


Oceane, Baptiste, Lucie, and Jerome, though coming from varied backgrounds and holding different perspectives in agriculture, are united in their recognition of a major hurdle: the level of paperwork and bureaucracy that pervades the agricultural sector. This shared struggle with administrative complexities underscores a common narrative among modern farmers. It not only highlights the challenges they face in establishing and sustaining their farming operations but also brings to light the need for systemic changes to reduce this burden, enabling them to focus on the essential aspects of farming and innovation. All of them also endure the challenges of isolation, a condition that can often be emotionally and mentally strenuous. 


The new generation of farmers 


These young French farmers, hailing from various regions, are advocating for a transformative approach to agriculture. They emphasize the importance of enhanced education and learning opportunities, fostering a direct connection with consumers, significantly reducing bureaucratic paperwork, and strengthening the resilience of agricultural practices.  

As the 60th International Agricultural Show in Paris approaches, themed around innovation and exploration, these young farmers stand as beacons of hope and resilience. Their experiences and views provide insightful perspectives on the evolution of French agriculture, a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, fueled by both passion and practicality. Investing in these young people is crucial to boost agricultural productivity, and ensuring food security.  

And as Jerome points out…, « Throughout our lives, we may occasionally require the services of a doctor, a lawyer, or an architect, but thrice daily, we rely on the irreplaceable dedication of a farmer ». 

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