Once upon a time...

...there was the CNEEMA

In May 1944, the Central Station for Machine Testing (SEMA) dating back to 1888 and the Experimental Hydraulic and Rural Engineering Station were merged.
The SEMA was in Paris, expanded in 1921 by two regional stations set up in Rennes and Montpellier, attached to the National Agricultural Schools for each of these two towns.
The geographic location caused a problem...
They were "looking for land for mechanical experiments available in the area immediately surrounding Paris." Land was therefore purchased in 1950, on the border between Fresnes and Antony, and work began in 1952.

On 20th May 1955, a legislative decree created the CNEEMA as the "National Centre for Studies and Experiments on Agricultural Machinery" bringing together the central and regional stations, the Experimental Hydraulic Station, the Secretariat for the Agricultural Machinery Management Committee and the Department of Documentation on Agricultural Machinery, founded by Professor Tony Ballu.

This set-up was replaced over time: French agriculture equipment and agricultural mechanisation was undergoing major development, although the fleet of tractors was still too small. As a complement to many measures, a suitable structure had to be set up urgently to guide this development rationally. Setting up a public organisation for forecasting, guidance, control, coordination, information and advice became extremely important. The assignments entrusted to the CNEEMA were summarised as: research, tests, documentation - information - training.
The Montoldre (Auvergne) branch was set up in 1968 to bring to fruition practical teaching work or "large scale natural" experiments.

During the same period, regional posts were opened at Nimes and Tholonet (close to Aix-en-Provence) to study the mechanisation of Mediterranean cultures more specifically.
Originally, CNEEMA employed 40 people. In 1970, it had 230 employees, one third from the Ministry for Agriculture and the rest contractual agents.
The administrative Public Establishment status gave it autonomy and the required financial flexibility.

And the CTGREF...

In parallel, the Agriculture Administration came up against precise technical problems within the framework of its assignments and had to rely on specialised services to exert its responsibilities. Following the reform of the Departments outside the Ministry for Agriculture by Edgard Pisani in 1965 and the concurrent set-up of the Body for Rural Engineering, Water and Forests, a scientific organisation was created: CERAFER (National Centre for Technical Studies and Technological Research for Agriculture, Forests and Rural Equipment). In 1972, this centre became the CTGREF (Technical Centre for Rural Engineering of Water and Forests) with the aim of essentially focusing its activities on information and technical support for the Ministry of Agriculture's central services.

So, within the framework of its assignments, the CTGREF:

  • manages the documentation, makes it available to users, and analyses and exploits recent achievements, providing new elements,
  • transposes research acquisitions, as far as practically possible, in a form that can be used for the people producing it.

Furthermore, depending on the knowledge available at the time, it must provide accurate answers to any questions it is set, assure essential connections with public or private research and study organisations.  It is also expected on this occasion to contribute to expressing research needs.

So, the CTGREF's actions were going to change in line with the 7th plan priorities.
This refers to:

  • reinforcing the economy's dynamics and adapting agricultural and food production to the market's new conditions,
  • assessing rural areas and improving quality of life,
  • defending natural heritage.

These fields of action are completed by permanent technical intervention (mapping location of avalanches, production of improved forestry seeds, etc.)

In 1977, the CTGREF was set up in Antony, Nancy, Nogent-sur-Vernisson, Riom, Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence, Bordeaux and Rennes. In 1979, nearly 500 people were employed by CTGREF (civil servants and employees contracted by the Ministry of Agriculture).

...merging to form CEMAGREF

On 21st January 1981, *CNEEMA and *CTGREF merged to create CEMAGREF. Decree 81-38 dated 21st January 1981 or decree 271285

CEMAGREF is therefore a public administrative establishment, ruled solely by the Ministry of Agriculture, and its decree is registered in Rural Law.

Different articles from rural law define its assignments:

  • assignment for applied research, technical support and information.
  • certification and approval tests on production and transformation equipment for agricultural products,
  • participation in teaching and training.

Within the concern to "use this new scientific and technical potential for the best", CEMAGREF was audited in 1983.

In 1985, CEMAGREF took on the status of a scientific and technical public establishment (EPST) supervised by both the Ministry of Research and Agriculture. This change in status was completed in 1992, with the appointment of tenured or permanent staff.

The geographic set-ups changed: during the 1980s, the Montpellier and Lyon sites were set up, whilst the Nîmes and Nancy sites were closed.

In November 1991, a relocation operation from the headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand failed but led to strengthening of the regional site. In the same period, the Rennes site was also boosted.
CEMAGREF organisation and assignments have been evolving progressively following strategic four-year plans to adapt as well as possible to changes in agricultural and environmental issues.