Farming in France

p. 336

Let's take a trip through France. In the northwest, you see milk cows grazing in the fields. Going east, you drive past the pastures and pig farms of Normandy. Then come the fields of vegetables that surround Paris. In northeastern France, you see fields of ripening wheat and rye. Turning south, you drive past vineyards, fruit orchards and pastures where beef cattle are raised. Near the Alps, where Anne-Marie lives, dairy cattle graze. Finally, in the very south, along the Mediterranean, corn and other vegetables, tree fruits and grapes ripen in the long days of sunshine.

Now you can see why France has been called the garden of Europe. Almost 60 per cent of France is used for farming. One person in 12 works in agriculture, more than in any neighbouring country.

Much French land is farmed by modern methods. At one time, many French farms were tiny because by law each farmer had to divide his land among all his sons. Now farmers buy land whenever they can. They want large farms that are easy to work. On large farms, farmers are able to use large, efficient machines to plant and harvest. But, on many farms, crops such as fruit, vegetables and grapes are still carefully picked by hand. French farms are not as large as Canadian farms on the prairies. Most French farms are between 20 and 50 ha in size.

. Why do you think French farms are smaller than Canadian farms on the prairies?

The French are very proud of the quality of their farm products. Many fresh vegetables and fruits go directly to market. French shoppers demand the best produce and reject anything that is not good.

Produce from other European countries tends to be cheaper than produce from France. For this reason, farmers from other countries can sell a lot of their produce in France. Sometimes French farmers have tried to keep out trucks bringing farm produce to France from other countries.

France exports many of its farm products. Wine and cheese are sold in countries around the world. Fruit, vegetables and grains are exported mainly to other European countries.

Some years, France grows and makes more farm products than it can sell. French people talk about the "lake of wine" in France. There are thousands of litres in storage because so much wine has been produced in the last few years.