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French president, politicians and press flock to high-profile fair for struggling farmers

Michel Euler / POOL / AFP | French President François Hollande at the International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture) in Paris on February 25.

French President François Hollande was present on Saturday for the opening ceremony of the high-profile Paris International Agriculture Show (Salon de l'Agriculture), the biggest annual event for a major industry struggling with sector-wide changes.

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The Paris International Agricultural Show makes front page news every year and the president’s attendance is expected.

France's agriculture sector is the largest in the European Union, and the event gives farmers a vital platform to voice their concerns to the jostling banks of journalists who throng the event.

The fair also offers an opportunity for politicians to speak to – and be photographed with – members of France's vast agriculture sector.

The main public event for the agricultural industry brings together breeders, local farmers, professional organisations and research institutes.

French agriculture has faced numerous challenges in recent years, including a bird flu outbreak, falling prices and persistent public fears over genetically modified (GM) crops. Many consumers are also increasingly turning to organic produce – but to qualify as organic, French farmers must make major operational changes and adhere to very strict growing standards.

"The agricultural sector is changing. French farming is in the throes of a major economic crisis," the agriculture show says on its website. "Serving as a showcase for agriculture, the Paris International Agricultural Show takes a long view of farming, bringing together sectors, stakeholders in these sectors and members of the general public."

The event is taking place from February 25 to March 5 at the Paris Expo at Porte de Versailles.

Click on the video player above to watch the full FRANCE 24 report.

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