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Digital image: the slide represents the difference of temperature between 13h universal time and 1h universal time on agricultural plots in the Beauce region of France (large differences in yellow). © INRA, Paul BOISSARD

Research for the future of the CAP

Agriculture 2013 Foresight Study

Conducted in the context of the 2008 CAP Health Check agenda, the Agriculture 2013 Foresight Study examined the capacities of the Common Agricultural Policy to meet various challenges – economic (world growth), commercial (WTO agreements) and environmental (biofuels) – in a negative and significantly uncertain climate.

Biking along the road. © inra, FORMISANO Sophie
Biking along the road © inra, FORMISANO Sophie

The Agriculture 2013 Foresight Study is a joint initiative led by Crédit Agricole, Groupama and INRA in conjunction with the 2008 CAP Health Check to provide insight into the future of French agriculture.

An original joint effort

The two-year project was launched in March 2003 and involved over 100 people: a steering committee, a panel of 15 experts, a team of 15 economist-modellers, 58 panel members on six different panels and a project team coordinator.
 Experts established hypotheses on future trends in world demand, international trade regulations and agricultural policy. They then constructed scenarios by combining the different hypotheses. Effects of scenarios on agriculture, the agro-food industry and the environment were determined using both economic simulation models and the work of the panels of economic, social, environmental, health, processing and distribution experts.

Three scenarios

- Scenario I – "the walk”
Development of biofuels and continuation of 2003 CAP in a climate of slowed world economic growth.
- Scenario II – "the trot”
Stepped up CAP reform in a climate of sustained world economic growth and biofuel development.
- Scenario III – "the gallop”
CAP reform plus greater trade liberalisation in a climate of accelerated world economic growth and biofuel development.

Main conclusions

  • The future of the CAP requires looking at the multi-faceted nature of agriculture: Need to at least distinguish between: major, annual crops, the future of which depends primarily on biofuel development; other vegetable crops; grazing animal production, which will be hit particularly hard by CAP deregulation; other animal products.
  • The future of the CAP requires the definition of long-term goals and the identification of necessary instruments and resources.
  • Given the weight of direct payments in income, aid reform must be gradual and accompanied by clear guidance from the current situation to ideal, long-term policy.
  • There is a need to examine strategies and policies to manage risk and price volatility.
  • It is important to recognize the environmental and regional impact of grazing animal production primarily based on grass.

Marion Guillou, former President of INRA: “This endeavour highlighted two major considerations: the importance of the international economic climate and the need to define the objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy prior to examining instruments. The upcoming challenge will be to produce sufficiently and sustainably while stabilising prices and supporting farming and agri-food activities in all regions".

Alexandre Gohin, INRA economist: “I have worked for several years on the CAP and the WTO but am surprised to see the extent to which world growth has affected the EU farming economy. The foresight study also revealed a need for more integrated models to better evaluate the environmental impact of scenarios".

Agriculture 2013 Foresight Study

Scientific contact(s):

  • Alexandre Gohin UMR1302 SMART Agricultural Structures and Markets, Resources and Territories
Associated Division(s):
Social Sciences, Agriculture and Food, Rural Development and Environment.
Associated Centre(s):


French agriculture: key facts

• Agricultural leader in the 27-member European Union (approximately 20% of all EU production)
• Nearly 55% of land surface is used for agriculture
• Continual decline in the number of farmers and holdings (four times less than 50 years ago)
• A concurrent increase in the average size of holdings (14 hectares in 1955 versus
50 hectares in 2005)
• Export agriculture primarily sold to other EU Member States
• Agriculture sector heavily subsidised, essentially through CAP