In 2007, the Grenelle de l’Environnement launched the reflection for an ambitious system allowing agriculture to acquire a public system of environmental valuation and recognition: “Environmental Certification of Agricultural Holdings”.
An original system with 3 gradual levels to advance step by step:
Level 1: Compliance with the essential practices of the environmental regulations.
Level 2: Adoption of low environmental impact techniques.
Level 3: Measuring environmental performance thresholds in terms of biodiversity and low input dependency.
Since its launch in 2011, the number of farms benefiting from the “High Environmental Value” (HVE) label has increased exponentially. All data concerning the number of certified farms and their geographical distribution are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The promise of virtuous agriculture
The promise of the High Environmental Value is an agriculture :
Integrates and develops biodiversity in the management of the farm,
Limits inputs as much as possible (pesticides, fertilisers, energy, external food, etc.). For an agriculture that is both autonomous and not very damaging to the soil, water and air.
Three gradual levels towards High Environmental Value
Levels 1 and 2 of the Environmental Certification of Agricultural Holdings each present specifications in the form of obligations to be implemented.
Level 3 is an innovation: it consists of a tool for measuring practices to assess the agroecological performance of the farm as a whole.
The certification covers all of the farm’s activities: crops, livestock and the environment of the plots and animals.
Level 3 is validated by audits that can be managed on a collective level at the territory level.
Agroecology: the basis of High Environmental Value
High Environmental Value farms are based on the principles of agroecology:
They design production systems that rely on the functionalities offered by ecosystems (soil fertility, protective fauna for crops, plant cover that promotes soil life, permanent grasslands, etc.).
They ensure agricultural production while aiming to reduce pressure on the environment (reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, limitation of the use of inputs, preservation of water resources).
They use natural elements as a production factor by maintaining its renewal capacity (green manure covers, agroforestry).
They promote diversity in production systems and restore a diversified landscape mosaic (crop diversification, rotations, implementation of agro-ecological infrastructures, etc.).
Why did you choose HVE3 rather than organic farming?
HVE3 certification seemed to us to be more eco-responsible simply because of its lower carbon footprint, which is lower than that of organic farming, due to the more frequent use of tractors. Moreover, the economic and ecological costs remain high with organic farming, with more frequent treatments, the cost of fuel, the cost of labour and the level of residual copper in the soil.