France’s Le Foll Sees Feed as Key in Future of Costlier Protein

Prices for imported protein crops such as soybeans will increase in coming years as more countries turn to international markets for livestock feed, French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said in an interview in Paris.

France must embrace feed self-sufficiency, relying on its capacity to grow protein crops and the country’s extensive permanent grassland to nourish its livestock, Le Foll said.

“The question of livestock feed will be an extremely important topic in coming years, and it will remain one of the largest production costs in raising animals,” Le Foll said. “Our strategy should be to bet on feed autonomy.”

The European Union imported 13 million metric tons of soybeans in the 2014-15 season, or 11 percent of world trade, and 20 million tons of soybean meal, a third of global imports. The price of soybeans delivered in Rotterdam is forecast to rise to $441.72 a ton in 2019 from $421.71 last year, according to the U.S. Food & Agricultural Policy Institute.

France has introduced a legal structure that allows for combinations of farms that produce livestock and protein crops, and has introduced aid for growing feed crops, Le Foll said.

As one example, wine makers in the Charente department have teamed up with meat producers, growing legumes destined for animal feed as cover crops between the vines, he said.