Agriculture, food and the social and solidarity economy

Kit departementalESS N°7

June 2021

Réseau des collectivités Territoriales pour une Economie Solidaire (RTES)

In connection with the renewal of departmental and regional executives in June 2021, the RTES is proposing a DepartmentalESS kit to raise awareness among candidates and provide tools for future teams wishing to support the social and solidarity economy (SSE).

This kit will include about twenty practical sheets, based on the principle of the MunicipalESS Kit published in 2020, illustrated with examples, and presenting in a synthetic and concrete way how a regional council can include the SSE in its policies.

Sheet 7 illustrates the major role of the departments in the food transition.

Climate change, the collapse of biodiversity, repeated crises in the agricultural world, food insecurity, etc. - many factors are pushing us to transform our food model, by rethinking production and consumption methods towards greater sustainability and territorial anchoring.

The departmental councils, in partnership with the actors of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), have a major role to play in this food transition, to allow access to sustainable and quality food for all.

Several possible levers of action:

Supporting territories in their actions for the food transition

As part of their mission to provide engineering support to territories, the departmental councils can encourage collective dynamics of territorial animation, particularly around the food transition.

Labo’Mobile support for three Gironde territories

As part of a call for expressions of interest of interest launched in 2017, the Gironde department of Gironde allows territories to benefit from support for their societal transformation project within the framework of the Labo’Mobile territorial animation system. The territories of Cussac-Fort-Médoc, the Community of Communes of Montesquieu, and the Alimen-terre collective of the Bassin d’Arcachon and the Val de L’Eyre were thus supported in the implementation of their food transition project. This support has resulted in the departmental council’s support for agricultural investments and the translation of local food projects into urban planning documents.

Encouraging the territorial anchoring of food and cooperation between networks

The départements can promote the development of local food circuits and the deployment of Territorial Food Projects (PAT), which make it possible to work on the issues of accessibility to quality products or fair remuneration for producers.

See the presentation of the « short circuits » action plan of the Haute-Garonne department in fact sheet n°5.

The departmental scale is often a good one for facilitating cooperation between actors, for example between solidarity and emergency food aid actors and local producers.

Covid-19: fresh and local products for food banks

In a tourist area that was severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis, the Hautes Alpes department set up an innovative food aid system during the Covid-19 crisis, in partnership with the State and UDESS 05 (a network of SSE actors). Within this framework, the department allocates an allowance to food banks to enable them to place orders with local producers. The Departmental Agency for Economic and Tourist Development (Addet 05) is responsible for putting producers and associations in touch with each other.

In addition, a PAT is currently being developed in the department, with a section on emergency food aid.

Support solidarity initiatives aimed at raising awareness and promoting access for all to quality, sustainable food

Promote access for all to local and sustainable food by involving local residents, by supporting SSE actors: solidarity grocery shops, the Cocagne network and its solidarity baskets, cooperative and participatory supermarkets, and food buying groups and cooperatives.

Supporting awareness-raising projects run by SSE actors that encourage citizen mobilisation: cooking workshops, maintenance of shared gardens, educational farms, etc.

Support the creation of shared spaces that promote awareness-raising activities and social mixing around food, and integrate SSE actors from the project’s conception.

The Coopérative d’Installation en Agriculture Paysanne (CIAP)

Since 2012, the CIAP has been assisting people with agricultural installation projects, first in Loire-Atlantique and then throughout the Pays de la Loire, thanks in particular to the support of the Loire-Atlantique department. Through creative farming courses, temporary porterage or permanent test areas for organic market gardening, the CIAP aims to promote small-scale farming, facilitate access to land and contribute to the success of innovative agricultural installations that are integrated into the local dynamic.

Supporting the installation of small-scale farming

The départements can support the setting up of farms via their agricultural and social competences, and also develop agreements with the SAFERs for the transfer of land or cooperation with the Terre de Liens solidarity land company.

Promote the supply of organic and local products in collective catering

This promotion can be achieved through the development of training and awareness-raising actions for collective catering staff and producers, but also by supporting buyers and suppliers in their responsible public procurement initiatives.

In the canteens of secondary schools and departmental administrations, actions can be taken to control costs: fight against food waste by working with local associations or national SSE actors; reduce the proportion of meat in orders (vegetarian meals); massify orders by grouping markets with other local authorities with local intermediaries.

The SCIC Coop Bio Île-de-France supported by the Val-de-Marne department

The SCIC Coop Bio Ile-de-France, which brings together some thirty farmers, several processing and distribution companies and local authorities, aims to promote a change of scale in Ile-de-France organic farming by supplying school canteens. The Val de Marne departmental council is a member of this SCIC and has voted an investment subsidy to build a vegetable factory. The department also calls on the SCIC for its supply contracts for collective catering.

To go further

  • RTES newsletters n°27 Local food circuits and n°30 Accessible sustainable food and their complementary files online

  • PARCEL: web tool Pour une Alimentation Résiliente Citoyenne Et Locale and the guide Agir sur le foncier agricole, un rôle essentiel pour les collectivités locales, Terre de Liens, January 2019

  • Collection of initiatives La transition en actions, Fondation Carasso, January 2019

  • Organic canteens, a practical guide for elected representatives, Un Plus Bio, September 2019

  • Towards food resilience, Les Greniers d’Abondance, February 2020.