Challenges and Ambition

Farms in France are traditionally based on a family model. While the farming systems and associated supply chains have met the quantities and quality requirements of domestic or export markets, it is clear that the agricultural sector has been losing market share for the past decade.

In order to regain market share, the organization of supply chains (animal and plant) in a territory must aim for the profitability and competitiveness of production, processing, and marketing activity. 

The traditional family model for farming in France is still widely in place today, but it is undergoing changes and evolutions. The trend of increasing the size of farming structures continues, but new forms are emerging: the installation of actors outside the family circle, the development of small-scale alternative production systems in sectors or short supply chains, and on the other hand the development of very large “industrial” farms present on international markets, which tend to reduce their production costs through expansion and outsourcing.

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Competitiveness and resilience of farms are now more vulnerable to more frequent and more severe weather events: agriculture is challenged by some production models that are sometimes too demanding in inputs and criticized from an environmental point of view. The organization of agricultural territories and sectors often involves specialization, which can lead to strong pressure on the environment (e.g., pollutants in the environment), ecological and agronomic imbalances (e.g., selection of bio-aggressors, loss of biodiversity, excess or lack of organic matter, etc.), and economic fragility in response to significant changes in the context (market, health crisis, climate, etc.).

The production, collection, processing and marketing of goods produced or used in a territory are concerned and questioned by consumers and society. 

The viability and transferability of farms, their contribution to employment, and the maintenance of an economic and social fabric in the territory are also called into question by the loss of competitiveness of traditional farming and the emergence of new forms of agriculture whose long-term economic viability is still to be proven. 

The response to the challenges of maintaining competitiveness, strengthening sustainability, and developing resilience is built through the design and testing of innovative technical and organizational solutions, whose performance and impacts must be controlled and evaluated. 

There are many technical action levers that can be used to develop innovations at the scale of the farm system: integrated crop protection, intensification of biological regulation, continuous monitoring of the environment (sensors and BigData), reduction of production costs and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (robotics), adaptation of production goals to the pedoclimatic context, etc. 

Some agroecological practices only make sense at supra-farm scales; this is the case for hedges. The implementation of these practices therefore requires the involvement of collectives and not just individual farmers. 

Innovation in terms of the organization of production on a regional scale is another lever of action. This includes imagining ways to diversify that promote synergies and interactions within or between production systems, farming systems, and sectors with the aim of developing a circular economy. 

The role of Acta and the Agricultural Technical Institutes is to be actors in this process by proposing technical and organizational solutions and evaluating their performance before their implementation or in itinere. 

By providing references, methods, and tools, they contribute to informing the decisions of farmers and actors in agricultural, rural, and territorial development and support technical changes at the scale of the farm and territorial dynamics. 


5 societal challenges define our priorities for action to support the agro-ecological transition and facilitate the transformation of agriculture towards more sustainable systems.

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