French farm revenues increased in 2011, with vineyard production enjoying the greatest gains.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the average income per French farm owner was 32,500 euros ($40,700), an increase of 3.8 percent compared with 2010.
The grape-growing sector has seen the greatest improvement. The average earnings of a vineyard owner reached 58,000 euros ($72,600) last year, compared with 39,100 euros ($49,000) in 2010 – an increase of nearly 50 percent. The Agriculture Ministry said this rise followed “several bad years” for the sector.
However, there are huge differences in wealth between wine regions. In Champagne, the average annual farm income came close to 100,000 euros ($125,200), while those in the Languedoc earned just 24,000 euros ($30,050). Champagne enjoyed a year of strong sales in 2011, recording total shipments of 323 million bottles – a figure that has only been bettered in 2007 and 1999. The sparkling-wine region is also a prosperous cereal-farming area.
The general increase in farm revenues comes at a time when the French agricultural sector is suffering from drought and increased costs of production. The disparities in wealth across the country are also a cause for concern.
“We are in a very volatile situation,” said Francois Lucas, vice-president of the second-largest farming union, Coordination Rurale. He explained that many farmers were still struggling, despite the figures showing a general increase in revenue.
Indeed, Xavier Beulin, president of the National Federation of Farmers, the FNSEA, insists that an increase in earnings is nothing to get excited about. “The results are not as great as people are claiming,” he said, noting that annual average incomes in 2011 were the same as in the year 2000.