Country Focus: France

by Mindy Dake
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Official name: French Republic.
Capital: Paris.
Population: 56.5 million. Labor force numbers 24.1 million. Farm population is 6% of labor force.
Land and climate: France lies in western Europe and shares land boundaries with Spain, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium. On the west, it is bounded by the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, and on the southeast by the Mediterranean Sea.
Its area is 54.8 million hectares of which agricultural land comprises 30.6 million hectares. Of the latter amount, 17.8 million hectares constitute arable land. There were about 960,000 farms in 1990 with an average size of 29.8 hectares.
The climate is mild and temperate with maritime influences along the seacoasts, continental characteristics throughout the central and eastern portions of the country and warming trends in the southeast due to the moderating influence of the Mediterranean. Annual rainfall varies by region, averaging 66 cm for the whole country. Rainfall is well distributed throughout the year.
Government: Republic with the president, currently Francois Mitterand, having wide powers. Prime Minister is Pierre Beregovoy.
Gross domestic product: $958.2 billion in 1990. Agriculture, forestry and fisheries contribute 3.6% of G.D.P. Agro-industry accounts for another 3% of G.D.P.
Currency: The French franc.
Foreign trade: Imports in 1991 were valued at $230.7 billion. Agricultural imports that year were valued at $25.4 billion.
Exports were valued at $216.1 billion in 1991. Agricultural exports were valued at $33.5 billion.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture under Jean-Pierre Soisson. Office National Interprofessional des Cereales (ONIC) is France's grain board. It is the French intervention authority under the European Community's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Major crops: In 1991, soft wheat was grown on 4.7 million hectares, barley on 1.7 million hectares and maize on 1.8 million hectares. Sunflowerseed was grown on 1.1 million hectares, rapeseed on 735,000 hectares and soybeans on 62,000 hectares. Other major crops include feed pulses, sugar beets, potatoes, other vegetables and fodder crops.
Soft wheat production in 1991 was 32.4 million tonnes, up from 31.6 million tonnes in 1990. Barley production was 10.7 million tonnes, up from 10.1 million tonnes. Maize production was 12.9 million tonnes, up from 9.5 million tonnes. Rapeseed production was 2.2 million tonnes, up from 2 million tonnes. Sunflowerseed production was 2.5 million tonnes, up from 2.4 million tonnes. Total oilseed production was 4.9 million tonnes, up from 4.6 million tonnes.
Livestock: Beef and veal production in 1991 was 1.8 million tonnes. Mutton production was 190,000 tonnes. Pork production was 1.9 million tonnes in 1991. Broiler meat production totaled 1 million tonnes in the year, and turkey meat production was 460,000 tonnes.
Fluid milk production amounted to 26.7 million tonnes.
Feed: Compound feed production in 1991 was estimated at 18.3 million tonnes. Feed use of wheat in 1991-92 was estimated at 7 million tonnes. On-farm feed use of wheat accounted for approximately 60% of the total feed use in 1991.
Transportation: French National Railways operates about 35,000 km of 1.435-meter standard gauge, about 12,000 km electrified and about 15,000 km double or multiple track. About 2,000 km of various gauge track is privately owned and operated.
Highways total 1.6 million km of which 33,400 km are part of the national highway system; 347,000 km are departmental highways; 421,000 km are community roads; 750,000 km are rural roads; and 5,400 km are controlled access divided auto routes. About 803,000 km of all roadways are paved.
Inland waterways measure about 15,000 km of which nearly half is heavily traveled.
The major form of grain transport is the truck. Railways have become increasingly important.
Grain storage: French total grain storage capacity in 1991 was estimated at 70.5 million tonnes. Since 1985, grain storage capacity has increased 40%.
Port grain facilities: Sixteen ports have grain handling facilities. The Port of Rouen dominates. Rouen is the world's largest port for flour, handling about 7% of world flour trade and 63% of exports of flour from France. Three-fourths of the grain handled at Rouen is wheat. Grain arrives at Rouen by truck, barge and rail.