Reaching out to develop and value the production of bio chestnuts

Bio-chestnut-amiguetYves Amiguet, third from right, explains the grafting process
A recruitment drive is underway to increase the number of producers of bio chestnuts in the Dordogne, as demand for the nuts continues to rise in Europe and across the world.

Last week around 50 people took part in an afternoon of information and hands-on advice at the foyer rural in Villefranche-du-Périgord that looked to offer help to owners of small chestnut woods, or those who were keen to transform other plots of land.

In the Dordogne there are around 100 producers of bio chestnuts, a long way behind numbers in southern parts of France, yet the demand is there as the market for bio products has increased by about 10% a year.

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Dordogne poultry and egg suppliers struggle as worries over bird flu increase

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Poultry and egg suppliers in the Dordogne are seeing sales fall as the number of cases of bird flu increases in the département.

Sud Ouest reports that those in the sector are seeing buyers cut orders, with supermarkets and village butchers reducing what they buy as demand from the public crumbles.

At present there has been seven cases of bird flu H5N1 in the Dordogne, two in les Landes and one in Haute-Vienne, with increased bio-security measures put in place by the agriculture ministry - even the chasse has been stopped in some communes.

At least eight countries have banned poultry products from France, including Japan, which is France’s biggest export market for fois gras and South Korea who imported 844,000 chickens and 41,000 ducks from France between January and October.

Suppliers in the Dordogne are telling customers that it is safe to eat cooked poultry and eggs, as the virus dies with cooking over 70°C, but rumours have already spread and the industry is beginning to see an impact.

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Learn more about the chestnut trade in the Dordogne

Chestnut
FANCY a change in direction, or a completely different type of job, then why not learn a little more about being a chestnut producer?

A series of talks providing advice and information is taking place on Friday 11 December in the foyer rural of Villefranche-du-Périgord, running from 14:00 to 17:00.

The meeting will cover how to grow bio chestnuts, the financial side of running an agricultural business, the different products that can be produced and how to reach markets in France and beyond.

The afternoon of advice and information on the chestnut business will finish with a visit to the bio farm of M and Mme Amiguet at Marou, in Villefranche-du-Périgord.

More information available from Ecolim, Claire Tissières tel 05 55 25 62 20 mob 06 07 98 82 82 or via rd@ecolim.com. Also Arbio Aquitaine, Marie Delhoume tel 05 56 79 28 52 or via email m.colombet@arbioaquitaine.fr.

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Farmers block roads around Caen in protest over low prices

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FARMERS in Normandy brought traffic to a standstill around Caen as they protested about the low prices they receive for milk and meat.

Dairy, pork and beef farmers arrived on the outskirts of the Normandy town on Sunday aboard some 330 tractors and other farm vehicles, according to local officials.

Around 10 per cent of the farming industry is on the edge of financial ruin according to government figures, with price competition amongst supermarkets being blamed for the squeeze being faced by farmers.

But farmers have also faced increased competition from the import of meat products from Germany and Poland, while dairy farmers are facing similar difficulties.

One said that he received €300 per tonne of milk, yet he needed to make €370 to actually make a living for his family, while just to cover costs he needs around €350.

The agriculture minister, Stephane Le Foll, has said that he wants to discuss the issues on Thursday with farmers, who say he should come to visit them now and require them to head to Paris.


Agriculteurs en colère. L'accès au Mont Saint... par OuestFranceFR

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Airbnb, Amazon land on French Senators’ tax radar as sales soar

France is trying to squeeze more out of web businesses like EBay Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Airbnb Inc.

Soaring online sales and the use of the Internet giants by smaller businesses as a marketplace for goods and services is prompting the French Senate to look for ways to collect more taxes from them and help Francois Hollande’s government narrow its budget gap.

French online sales may grow nearly 10 percent this year to 62 billion euros ($70 billion), according to the FEVAD, the country’s e-commerce business group.

The Senate’s finance committee wants the state to get a bigger slice of that pie through value-added taxes, customs levies and a crackdown on companies using bases in fiscally favourable countries to do business in France.

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French PM Valls softens labour laws in bid to curb rising unemployment

Valls-jobs
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday unveiled a series of reforms aimed at curbing rising unemployment.

The measures include relaxing labour laws and giving business owners incentives to hire more staff.

The "Small Business Act", which will award a €4,000 bonus to small and medium-sized companies that hire their first employee for a year-long contract, was among the reforms announced by Valls on Tuesday.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said the measure should create between 60,000 and 80,000 jobs.

"L’embauche dans les TPE et les PME : c’est la priorité du moment, c’est l’essentiel"

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In Europe, fake jobs can have real benefits

Jobs-france
At 9:30 a.m. on a sunny weekday, the phones at Candelia, a purveyor of sleek office furniture in Lille, France, rang steadily with orders from customers across the country and from Switzerland and Germany. A photocopier clacked rhythmically while more than a dozen workers processed sales, dealt with suppliers and arranged for desks and chairs to be shipped.

Sabine de Buyzer, working in the accounting department, leaned into her computer and scanned a row of numbers. Candelia was doing well. Its revenue that week was outpacing expenses, even counting taxes and salaries. “We have to be profitable,” Ms. de Buyzer said. “Everyone’s working all out to make sure we succeed.”

This was a sentiment any boss would like to hear, but in this case the entire business is fake. So are Candelia’s customers and suppliers, from the companies ordering the furniture to the trucking operators that make deliveries. Even the bank where Candelia gets its loans is not real.

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Air traffic controllers say talks now, or strikes restart on Thursday

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THE union representing French air traffic controllers has said that if negotiations do not go well in coming days, their members are ready to go on strike from Thursday.

SNCTA has said that talks must take place immediately and that issues about retirement ages and management procedures are still outstanding.

They go on to say that air traffic controllers are ready to take a second round of strike action from 16 to 18 April, just as many French schools break up for the Easter holidays.

Around 50% of flights were cancelled in France earlier this month when air traffic controllers staged a two day strike.

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HSBC faces French criminal tax probe

Hsbc-logo-squareHSBC says it has been placed under formal criminal investigation by French magistrates over alleged past tax-related offences at its Swiss private bank.

It added that bail of €1bn ($1.075bn; £726m) has been imposed.

HSBC said it believed the French magistrates' decision was "without legal basis and the bail is unwarranted and excessive".

It added that it would appeal and "defend itself vigorously".

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Slow growth and stubborn unemployment levels set to dominate France

InseeTHE French economy looks set to stumble along over the coming years, as statistics body INSEE published a report covering the country as well as Europe and the wider world.

Growth in France is expected to reach 1.5% in both 2016 and 2017, down on previous forecasts, while this year is only set to see growth of one percent.

Other highlights from the report include:

As expected, activity progressed little in France at the end of 2014
In Q4, activity grew only slightly in France (+0.1% after +0.3%), as expected in Conjoncture in France in December 2014. The slowdown was partly due to the marked fall in energy production (-2.5% after +1.7%), under the effect of the mild autumn temperatures.

Manufacturing output fell back slightly (-0.1% after +0.6%), notably due to transport equipment (-2.8%), while activity was dynamic in capital goods (+1.5%). Output barely slowed in market services (+0.4% after +0.5%) and in trade (+0.5% after +0.9%). Construction activity, however, contracted again sharply (-0.8% after -1.0%).

The business climate in France has progressed only slightly since November
After deteriorating in summer 2014, the business climate in France improved again in November, returning to the same level as in H1 2014. The business climate in France has progressed only slightly since then, to a level (96 in March 2015) that is still below its long-term average (100).

The French economy should accelerate a little in H1 2015
According to business leaders in services surveyed in March, the business climate still remains relatively morose and activity in market-sector services should progress in H1 at a rate close to its average since 2010 (+0.4% per quarter on average).

After a sharp fall in Q4 2014 (-2.5%), when mild autumn temperatures reduced heating expenditure, energy production should rebound considerably in Q1 (+2.9%), before returning to a rate closer to its trend in Q2 (+0.6%).

Finally, the fall in activity in construction should barely ease in H1 2015 (-0.7% then -0.6% after -0.8% at the end of 2014): investment in new housing should fall less in H1 2015 than in 2014, but the continuing fall in building permits for non-residential buildings provides no sign of any clear improvement.

The unemployment rate should reach 10.6% in mid-2015
In Q4 2014, the unemployment rate stood at 10.4% of the labour force on average (10.0% in Metropolitan France), after 10.3% in the previous quarter.

In H1 2015, the expected slight rise in employment is unlikely to be enough to offset the growth in the labour force and the number of unemployed should rise slightly.

The unemployment rate should increase again and could reach 10.6% by mid-2015.

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