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COVID CANCELLATION

Next year's French Agricultural Fair cancelled over Covid-19 fears

The 2021 edition of the French Agricultural Fair, normally held in March, has been cancelled because of the Covid epidemic.
The 2021 edition of the French Agricultural Fair, normally held in March, has been cancelled because of the Covid epidemic. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The 2021 Salon de l'Agriculture, one of the showpiece events of the French farming calendar, has been cancelled because of the continuing spread of coronavirus. 

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While there'll be no public show of agricultural produce at the Paris exhibition centre, originally scheduled to run between 27 February and 7 March next, the traditional competitions will be maintained in all categories. 

And Christiane Lambert,the president of FNSEA, the leading farmers' union, has promised that various smaller alternatives will be organised in Paris and outside the capital.

For the first time ever, what would have been the 58th annual holding of the farm fair, and it's fifthieth year in central Paris, has been cancelled.

Christiane Lambert describes the decision as "difficult but necessary, in view of the health situation".

The annual meeting between farmers, producers and public is crucial for all concerned, she says, promising that alternative forms of exchange will be found. "You can count on us," she said in a radio interview on Wednesday morning.

Vast outdoor markets?

One of the possibilities being considered is the organisation of huge outdoor markets in and around Paris.

For the agricultural competitions, it is envisaged to divide the 6,000 jury members between four French cities, an enormous organisational problem.

Christiane Lambert says the effort is essential. 

The professionals need the sales boost that comes with a strong performance in national competition.

Especially now, with the French consumer realising the importance of buying local and shortening the supply chain. "We don't want to miss this year," the farmeing leader says.

"And we'll also be out there, talking to people about the importance of food independence.

A sector under huge pressure

In the meantime, the farming sector is suffering as a result of the health crisis. The French are consuming less beer, wine and cider, are eating fewer chips, restaurants are closed.

For Christiane Lambert the need is for solidarity between consumers, distributers and producers to promote French produce and protect jobs in the farming and food-processing industries.

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