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France launches 500 million euro support scheme for agri-food sector

France has moved to support its agri-food sector, which is suffering from high costs and struggling to compete on world markets, including by launching a 500 million euro ($531 million) fund open to private investors.

Agri-food is the leading industry in France with a turnover of 198 billion euros, according to a joint statement by the industry and agriculture ministries.

The state will provide 200 million euros of the total fund with the rest open to investment funds and strategic investors, Industry Minister Roland Lescure told reporters, adding that the investment strategy would be laid out in the coming weeks.

“The objective is not to nationalise the French agri-food industry but to support private partners who will help us to push the sector forward,” Lescure said.

The scheme aims to provide development capital to small- and medium-sized businesses, including for investment in factory automation and agro-ecology as well as support for consolidation within the sector to improve competitiveness.

The government hopes to be able to gather investment commitments in the coming weeks, Lescure said.

The plan also includes the possibility for companies to defer social and tax charges and training for export managers to help penetrate new international markets.


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