French Farms Get A Makeover In France, nearly every industry is laying off workers except one: Farming. Yet French farmers say they are unable to fill thousands of positions each year. In an effort to attract new recruits, the French government has launched a campaign to jazz up farming's image.
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French Farms Get A Makeover

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French Farms Get A Makeover

French Farms Get A Makeover

French Farms Get A Makeover

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In France, nearly every industry is laying off workers except one: Farming. Yet French farmers say they are unable to fill thousands of positions each year. In an effort to attract new recruits, the French government has launched a campaign to jazz up farming's image.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

Nearly every industry in France is laying off workers, except farming, yet French farmers say they can't find enough people to work the fields. So the government is trying to attract new recruits by launching a campaign to update farming's image. Eleanor Beardsley has this report.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Woman #1: (French spoken)

BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man: (French spoken)

BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Woman #2: (French spoken)

BEARDSLEY: At a recruiting stand for the new campaign, a giant banner reads: Tomorrow, I'll be a farmer. An announcer gives tiny children a quiz about farm life while young people register to win a giant green tractor. Pascal Farze(ph) is president of the National Farmers Union, which sponsored the campaign.

PASCAL FARZE: (Through translator) We wanted to buff up the image of farming, make it young, dynamic, even a little fun. We need to attract young blood. So this is a playful way to get young people to at least come take a closer look at the world of agriculture.

BEARDSLEY: Despite soaring unemployment in France, 21 percent of farmers say they have difficulty finding enough staff. That number rises to 37 percent if you're talking about skilled help. In rural France, there are tens of thousands of permanent and seasonal job openings.

(SOUNDBITE OF COW MOOING)

BEARDSLEY: Milk producer Jean Louis Escure(ph) is bringing his calves over to their mother's paddocks to suckle during feeding time. At 55, Escure says he's made a good living, but has no one to take over his farm when he retires.

JEAN LOUIS ESCURE: (Through translator) There aren't a lot of young people who want to do this tough job. You've got to work Saturdays and Sundays, and you can just forget about the 35-hour work week. That doesn't exist on a farm.

BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BEARDSLEY: Twenty-year-old Charlie Pondri(ph) is one farmer's son who does plan to carry on the family business. His father and grandfather breed Charolais beef cattle in Burgundy.

CHARLIE PONDRI: (Through translator) Building a good herd of cattle takes several decades, so it's important that I will be there to continue our farm and the tradition. But you do have to be motivated and very passionate.

BEARDSLEY: Pondri and other farmers here applaud the campaign. Their only concern is that it may attract what they call neo-rurals, those who romanticize farming and may not be quite ready for its reality.

(SOUNDBITE OF COW MOOING)

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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