His formal appointment will only take place on April 13, during the FNSEA Board of Directors. But it is this week, during the Congress of Brest that we will attend the dubbing of Christiane Lambert as the new boss of the first French agricultural union. On Wednesday March 29, we will be able to measure with the applaudimeter, at the end of his speech in front of the members, with what enthusiasm the FNSEA will carry for the first time a woman at its head. A legitimate and logical accession after the death of Xavier Beulin on February 19.
“She was ready, and let it be known,” said one of her supporters. The one who played the supporting roles behind the president since 2010 had already announced her candidacy at the end of last year. For a few months, she had gotten into the habit of replacing Xavier Beulin at short notice to answer an interview or lead a meeting when he, weakened by his dialysis, had to rest. But the health of the union leader having improved significantly, succession was no longer on the agenda and Xavier Beulin fully intended to run for a new mandate. As number two and a member of the outgoing team, she couldn’t stand up to him as long as he wanted to come back. Agreeing with him on most subjects (the defense of the CAP and the competitiveness of French agriculture), his candidacy would only have served to point out a problem of casting at the head of the organization.
A very real problem, moreover, because in the eyes of some farmers, Xavier Beulin was mainly seen as the boss of the agro-industrial group Sofiproteol and associated with major cereal and oilseed crops and suffered from a lack of legitimacy, far from the profile of his predecessor Jean-Michel Lemétayer, who was a Breton breeder.
With Christiane Lambert, there will be no fundamental rupture but for the rest, big changes visible to the naked eye. The historic accession of a woman to the head of the peasant world finally reflects the role played by women farmers in the economy and in trade unions and professional bodies. They are no longer considered for a long time as “family helpers” on the farms but as genuine responsible farmers alone or on an equal basis with their spouses.
At the head of a mixed-crop farm around a pig breeding, with her husband in Maine-et-Loire since 1989, Christiane Lambert, 55, is the mother of three children and was already between 1994 and 1998, the first and only woman national president of the Center for Young Farmers (now JA).
Technician and politician
Warm and excellent communicator, not hesitating to give her visitors a kiss, this peasant girl from Cantal, a former handball player, who always wanted to become a farmer in her turn, is also known (and feared) for frankly speaking. which did not prevent her from climbing all the levels of trade unionism one by one.
Like its predecessor, it is favorable to GMOs but does not want to receive lessons in ecology. Former president of the FARRE network (Forum of sustainable agriculture and respectful of the environment), this technician knows her files well and affirms her requirement and her personal experience for the protection of the environment and the defense of human conditions in the farms. .
Competent, solid, courageous are the qualities that we readily recognize in her, but the one that will be most useful to her will undoubtedly be optimism, to imagine a bright future for a battered profession and sector, and to restore confidence in a populated agricultural France. legions of desperate peasants.