Why do the French love “agricultural exhibitions”?

Why do the French love

The French are essentially peasants. The annual Paris International Agricultural Show is proof of this.

Paris International Agricultural Exhibition (Salon international de l’agriculture – SIA) is known as “the world’s largest farm”, and it attracts an average of nearly 700,000 visitors for about 9 days each year. In 2015, the number of visitors was 691,000, and 1,050 participating farmers came from 22 countries; the total area of ​​8 exhibition halls reached 140,000 square meters, and more than 4,000 animals of various types were exhibited (including: 1,000 purebred dogs, 650 goats, goats, sheep, rams, ewes, 610 rabbits, 600 cows, bulls, 100 horses, colts, donkeys, 60 pigs, etc.), and the most beautiful cows in France, the most beautiful horses, etc. The “most beautiful” of animals such as the most gorgeous rooster. The image “Egérie” designated by the 53rd Paris Agricultural Exhibition this year is a Bazadaise cow named “Cerise” – what is the ultimate French pursuit of beauty!

It stands to reason that it would be most appropriate for this kind of bustling super agricultural exhibition to be held in a rural area of ​​an agricultural area. But no. The French wanted to mobilize a large number of people, and they did not hesitate to spend a huge amount of transportation costs to move a living village to the most prosperous urban area of ​​Paris, so that people in the city would have a “village addiction” like a festival.

Why do the French love

However, the Paris International Agricultural Exhibition is by no means just an “agricultural exhibition”.

First of all, it is a “colosseum” of French politics: for every heavyweight French politician, no matter which political party they belong to, if they want to win the general election, the “Paris Agricultural Exhibition” is an “hurdle” that cannot be bypassed .

Winning the support of the peasantry is an important bargaining chip in the political capital of every French ruler. Therefore, whether it is the “jeune loup” who is eager to climb, or the “elephant (éléphant)” (the French media’s customary term for politicians of the left and right) who has achieved great success, every year, we must pay tribute to the exhibition at the agricultural exhibition. The “appearance” show is painstaking: in addition to comparing the length of visits with political opponents – usually more than four hours on average – it is also necessary to carefully plan which day and time to appear in order to avoid a certain figure, or to attract more journalists and spectators. eyeball.

Why do the French love

In this aspect, the most superb and convincing “skill” is none other than the old President Jacques Chirac who stepped down in 2007.

At the age of 40 (1972), Chirac, who had served as Minister of Agriculture, was well aware of the importance of farmers’ votes to the election situation and the political situation. He always regarded participating in the annual agricultural exhibition as a top priority and never let go of an opportunity. During the 12-year presidential term from 1995 to 2007, Chirac not only personally cut the ribbon for the agricultural exhibition every year, but also lingered in front of all kinds of livestock and various agricultural product stalls every time, staying at least four or five hours; Shake hands and say hello, taste all kinds of local products, but also have to “love the house and the bird”, praise the livestock raised by the farm or the cured ham, its skill is so sophisticated, so that it enjoys the reputation of “the expert who shoots the cow’s butt”. 

Why do the French love

Some commentators even believe that the reason why Chirac was elected president that year was mainly due to his “slapping the ass”. Chirac himself once had a famous saying: “The success or failure of a presidential candidate depends on the cow’s butt!” Radu (Edouard Balladur) was once far ahead in the opinion polls, and the momentum greatly surpassed that of Chirac. But then it was because at the Paris Agricultural Exhibition, Baladou, who was a bit of an Ottoman aristocrat, actually slapped the cow’s buttocks with white gloves, which was in sharp contrast to Chirac, who was stroking the fat buttocks of the cow with his bare hands, and angered the farmers present. Since then, public opinion has plummeted, and he was defeated in the first round of voting. After Chirac took office, he was very grateful to the farmers who pushed him to the presidency, and he took more sincere and hard work in taking pictures of cow buttocks at the agricultural exhibition every year, leaving an indelible impression on the French. 

Even after stepping down, Chirac is still reluctant to part with the Paris Agricultural Exhibition. On February 26, 2008, Chirac, who had retired for nearly nine months, appeared again at the Paris Agricultural Exhibition surrounded by forest-like microphones and cameras. For a while, the news of “Chiracis back (Chiracis back)!” spread like wildfire in the exhibition halls of the Paris Agricultural Exhibition, arousing the curiosity and onlookers of the crowd.

On that day, although the title of president was no longer, Chirac, who still had the same demeanor, went from one booth to another as usual, holding hands when he saw him all the way, slapping the buttocks of cows, and sausages, cheese, beer, melons and fruits. Not saying no to anything, and loudly declaring “It’s a pleasure to be here!” from time to time.

Chirac walked around the exhibition halls for nearly four hours. According to eyewitnesses, wherever Chirac went, not only the farmers welcomed him like an old friend, but even the cows were very excited to meet him, and the old cows and the old president often appeared in the exhibition hall staring at each other. The inseparable and inseparable moving scene of “never tire of seeing each other”. In addition to the sighs and emotions of the farmers present, political commentators also agreed that Chirac was still so fond of the agricultural exhibition when he had no official position and no political interests to gain. It shows that he really has feelings for agriculture and farmers. On that day, the farmers of the “Friends of Pigs” club also issued a “Friends of Pigs” membership card to Chirac…

Why do the French love

In addition to becoming the “birthplace” of domestic political news from various media in France during the exhibition period, the Paris Agricultural Exhibition often has some incidents or anecdotes related to political figures, which have become jokes or scandals in French history . For example, in 1988, in the “Concours général agricole” (Concours général agricole) “, a Maine Anjou bull broke the world bull weight record with a weight of 1922 kg, but its name is often named People laughed because it was called “ROYAL”!

In the past ten years, the most famous political “scandal” that occurred at the Paris Agricultural Exhibition was probably the incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy who stunned the French at the opening ceremony of the 45th exhibition in 2008. ) had a rare incident of scolding a commoner in the street.

Why do the French love

The incident at that time was roughly like this: President Sarkozy, who had just taken office at that time, was determined to “break” with his predecessors including Chirac after he came to power; Avoid too much dealing with farmers at the fair with whom he is not so emotionally close.

Unexpectedly, as soon as the news got out, it aroused strong dissatisfaction from the National Federation of Agricultural Operators Associations (FNSEA), the largest French association of agricultural operators: Isn’t it “the country will not be the country” if the president does not participate in the agricultural exhibition? Sarkozy knows that offending farmers will lead to endless troubles. In desperation, I had no choice but to attend the opening ceremony as usual, but decided to change the previous practice in the arrangement of visits. First, I gave a speech on agricultural policy in the livestock “competition field” set up in the exhibition hall, and then only spent tens of minutes to watch a few A booth, walk through the stage with a “people-friendly” attitude.

However, when Sarkozy was in a hurry to greet the crowd, he encountered an ignorant “troublemaker” who refused to shake hands with the president and asked him to “don’t touch me.” Although Sarkozy is the president, he was not humble in front of the rude “villain”, so he blurted out: “Then you go away!” The man was not to be outdone, and replied: “You have defiled me!” Erkoch then cursed with anger on his face: “casse-toi pauvre con (fuck you, bastard)!” 

Although this process lasted only a few seconds, it was all recorded by a reporter present. Le Parisien bought the 45-second video that day and published it on its official website; by the next afternoon, it had been viewed by 700,000 netizens. “President Sa’s agricultural exhibition and citizens scolding” became a big news that caused a sensation in France.

From the kings of the dynastic era to the former president of the Fifth Republic, the French have never encountered a president who is so close to the “common people” and dares to “be violent”. For a while, the French political circles and ordinary people temporarily forgot about the soaring food prices and the long-awaited increase in “purchasing power”, and started a national civil war of “should the president scold citizens”. “Casse-toi pauvre con (fuck you, bastard)!” Not only became the iconic event of that Paris Agricultural Show, but also almost turned into a French “national curse” that attracted worldwide attention: in just a few short days after the incident, Within a few days, that short video clip had already spread all over the world, with over millions of hits; even cleverer people rushed to register the “cassetoipauvrecon” domain name with various suffixes on the second day; countless “cassetoipauvrecon” domain names also appeared on the Internet Spoof” video. Moreover, for a while, not only were cultural T-shirts and other derivative products with the theme of “casse-toi pauvre con (fuck you, bastard)!” Erkoqi’s “mantra” has also triggered several judicial disputes “in court”…

Why do the French love

In the second year (2009) when the agricultural exhibition was held, a farmer participating in the exhibition in Bayeux, France insisted on calling one of his sows “casse-toi pauvrecon (fuck you, bastard)!” Embarrassed, the host of the exhibition asked the farmer to change the name of the sow for fear of offending the president; in desperation, the sow’s name was changed to “Camomille” and won the “Best Young Sow Award” that year “!”

Sarkozy, the former president who wanted to make a comeback in 2017 after being defeated in the 2012 election and the current chairman of the French “Republican Party (Les Républicains)”, published a book entitled “La France pourlavie” (La France pourlavie) in early 2016. book, repenting of the “casse-toi pauvre con (fuck you, bastard)!” event, which had a huge impact on the world, and considers it one of the most significant behavioral blunders in his 5-year presidency, Damage to the presidency and image.

Every year at the Paris Agricultural Show, there are often some ridiculous or funny things. In 2006, poultry farmers were suddenly notified that they were not allowed to bring poultry to the exhibition (usually 2,000 poultry were exhibited each year), because the avian flu was serious that year, and the French government banned poultry from appearing at the agricultural exhibition out of prudence; The breeders protested, but there were all kinds of animals and livestock in the agricultural exhibition that year, but the lack of chickens… 

In 2008, when poultry returned to the Paris Agricultural Exhibition again, such a hilarious story happened: the then French Prime Minister François Fillon (François Fillon) was on the 6th day after President Sarkozy’s “National Curse” episode, Finally made an appearance at the agricultural show. During the four-and-a-half-hour visit, Fillon not only tasted a variety of local products from participating farmers, but also received gifts from a large number of farmers.

Why do the French love

When he came to the booth of the famous French chicken breeding company Fermiers de Loué, the manager of the company gave the Prime Minister a live chicken. He put the chicken in the cardboard box into the arms of Prime Minister Fillon, and said: “We chose a name for this chicken, ‘Carla’, because it is beautiful, with reddish-brown feathers… …”; this overly explicit “comparison” with President Sarkozy’s new wife caused a burst of laughter from the people around; Prime Minister Fillon accepted this strange and tricky gift with a smile and a little embarrassment. At the end, the farm manager specially added: “I don’t know how well it sings (another insinuation that the first lady is a singer!); however, as long as the people in the Prime Minister’s Office are good at serving, it is no problem to lay one egg a day.” .

 When the Prime Minister and his party left the exhibition hall with large and small bags of gifts, the curious reporter specifically asked: “Where is Karla?” The Prime Minister’s bodyguard joked: “We will kill you for you!” Of course, The prime minister dare not do anything. No, the next Friday morning, the spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s Office specifically explained the fate of “Karla” to the press: “This is an inappropriate gift. However, we will handle it with a sense of proportion and will Entrust it to the farmer friends in Sarthe (Prime Minister Fillon’s constituency) to take care of it.” At this point, Prime Minister Fillon finally “turned the corner” again and found a place for “Karla” that does not make the Elysee Palace (French Presidential Palace) embarrassing decent home……

 Of course, these are irrelevant “agricultural exhibition” rumors and trifles; however, people can probably vaguely see the natural close relationship between the French from the president, the prime minister and ordinary people to agriculture and farmers.

 This is an emotional relationship that can be called a “complex”; it is inextricably linked and touches almost every detail of everyone’s daily life: from the milk you drink in the morning to the croissants you eat, to the tavern at noon. From red wine to the last course of cheese for dinner, it is difficult for the French to live without various agricultural products from what they call “terroir”.

 When the French comment on wine or cheese, the attention and emphasis on the relationship between “terroir” and quality, the concentration and devotion in the look and tone, and the delicacy and accuracy of the vocabulary used often give people a certain kind of feeling. Religious devotion and even fanaticism are by no means fully understood and experienced by a non-French native. It actually expresses the inseparable connection between the French and the “terroir”, or a certain French “peasant consciousness”.

Why do the French love

Indeed, it can be said that France is probably one of the rare countries in the world where the word “peasant” not only does not have a derogatory connotation, but also can instantly arouse the goodwill or closeness of “citizens”.

 The reason is probably that most of the people who have successively entered the city as “citizens” since the second half of the last century have not “forgotten their origins” and have not despised or disgusted “hometown” and “hometown” because of an inexplicable sense of “nobility”. native land”. This also explains why the Paris Agricultural Exhibition can occupy such an important position in the hearts of French people from all walks of life.

 The French respect farmers not only because people never forget that they were farmers, but also because agriculture is still an important economic sector that the French are proud of. Although farmers account for only about 4% of France’s employed population, and the share of agricultural production in the overall gross domestic product (PIB) has fallen from 10% in 1959 to 1.7% in 2014, French agriculture remains strong , is the world’s third largest and the EU’s largest agricultural country after the United States and Brazil. France is also the world’s third largest exporter of agricultural products, with a trade surplus of 11.6 billion euros in 2013; in 2014, France’s total agricultural output value was 73 billion euros. The entire agricultural industry chain in France – including agricultural cultivators, agricultural wage earners, seeds, fertilizers, plant disease control products, agricultural equipment, agricultural product processing industry, agricultural cooperatives, etc. – has a total of nearly 1.5 million long-term employed people; according to 2014 According to statistics, there are 475,000 agricultural management organizations in France, including about 3,000 private agricultural enterprises or cooperatives with more than 20 employees.

 France’s rural area accounts for nearly 80% of the country’s land area. This makes farmers, who account for only 4% of the employed population, form a novel relationship with the land, society, economy and the environment. The tasks of farmers are not limited to farming and breeding, but also undertake certain functions of land consolidation and environmental protection. In addition, agricultural personnel also undertake social functions such as the development of rural agricultural tourism, handicrafts, rural cultural and sports activities, and various neighboring services that are essential for regional balanced development. For the roughly one-tenth French who own a villa in the countryside, their connection with the peasantry is more direct and concrete.

 The French not only love their hometown, but also attach importance to and devote themselves to passing this emotion on to the next generation. The annual Paris “Agricultural Exhibition” is a rare opportunity for the French to show live livestock and get close to farmers and agriculture to children who usually only see cut steaks and dismembered chicken legs in supermarkets.

 This educational function of the Paris Agricultural Show is probably one of the reasons for the long-term prosperity of this exhibition. And it should be said that the organizers have worked hard for this. First of all, the selection of the exhibition date – at the turn of February and March every year, that is, when primary and secondary schools are on winter vacation – has already reflected the special attention to the audience of young people and children; secondly, in the design arrangement of the exhibition venue , is even more ingenious, running through many novel exhibition art ideas, so that the places that are likely to be smelly and difficult to get close due to the mixture of humans and animals, animal feces and litter are arranged in an orderly manner, so that visitors can not only feel everywhere. Feel natural and at ease, and have a desire to communicate and contact with exhibiting animals or objects. Teenagers and children are especially able to accept this kind of exhibition method that is full of the cheerful atmosphere of the country fair, but also has a strong modernity and is entertaining and educational. No wonder nearly one in ten of the nearly 700,000 visitors each year is a child.

Why do the French love

 Every year, the Paris International Agricultural Exhibition has a theme that is closely related to current events. For example, in 2016, the goal was to provide visitors with a vision of “Agriculture etalimentation Citoyennes” (Agriculture etalimentation Citoyennes), inviting all visitors and citizens to think together The place of agriculture in society and in future policy choices; in particular, prompting everyone to think about questions such as “What do we really want to eat?” What is the coherence between the two?” and other basic questions; trying to use these thoughts to appeal to every citizen to change their purchasing and consumption habits, to awaken the sense of responsibility, to promote the evolution of the French agricultural and food industry chain, and to resolve The serious crisis currently facing French agriculture…

 It is not difficult to predict that although due to the implementation of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and the pressure from the United States and the World Trade Organization, French agriculture will experience a painful transformation crisis in the future, but the Paris Agricultural Exhibition may continue for a long time. The French ” “Peasant consciousness” will not disappear easily…

Source: Zennong Commune