Who We Are:
The French Connection Project Defined

  1. I. Who We Are: The French Connection Project Defined
  2. II. Relevant Terms & Definitions
  3. III. Project Timeline
  4. IV. Project Personnel

Who We Are: The French Connection Project Defined

This project, A Michigan-French Partnership to Strengthen the Global Competence of Students, Researchers, and Extension Educators in Agriculture and Tourism, was funded by a grant from the International Science & Education Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Building upon MSU’s exchange agreement with the International Center for Higher Education in Agricultural Sciences in Montpellier, France (SupAgro-M), the project fostered collaboration between MSU and SupAgro-M faculty in order to learn about and incorporate French approaches and techniques in value-added food, agriculture and agri-tourism into courses and MSU Extension Educator programs.

The project supported student internships to increase the competencies of MSU students in the field of value-added food, agriculture, and agri-tourism. Workshops and exchange visits with agri-entrepreneurs helped to build the capacity of MSU Extension educators to adapt French value-added agriculture techniques and approaches to improve the market opportunities and competitiveness of Michigan farms, agri-food and agri-tourism businesses.

Collaborative, applied research and teaching in value-added food, agriculture, and agri-tourism between MSU and French researchers was encouraged. These exchanges helped to identify state and local development policies that could foster more economic opportunities for value-added agriculture and agri-tourism in Michigan.

More broadly, project activities sought to stimulate statewide attention by private businesses, public agencies and non-profit groups to the ways in which new approaches to value-added agriculture and agri-tourism could contribute to revitalizing the Michigan economy.

Relevant Terms & Definitions

Geographical Indication (GI)

A geographical indication (GI) is an umbrella term that is used to distinguish, identify and link a product’s particular characteristics to its origin.

In the US, we more commonly refer to origin products or origin-linked or based products. An origin-based product, or a GI product, ties together people, places and food products. These products have specific quality attributes that are inseparably linked to the places where they are produced and that have built up a reputation over time.

GI products reflect the unique combination of local natural resources (climate, soil, local animal breeds and plant species, traditional equipment etc.) and cultural assets (traditions, know-how and skills) in a given territory, thus establishing specific links among the product, people and a territory.

The term, terroir, is commonly associated with geographical indications. This term embodies several important characteristics of a geographical indication:
a delimited geographic space where the people have constructed over time a collective intellectual or tacit production know-how based on a system of interactions between a physical and biological milieu, and a set of human factors which reveal an originality, confer a typicality and can engender a reputation for a product that originates in that terroir.

In international law, The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement defines Geographical Indications “as identifying a good as originating in the territory …, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is, essentially,
attributable to its geographical origin”.

Project Timeline


Wright Guest Seminar at SupAgro, February 6-17 2009


Wright Guest Seminar at SupAgro, April 1-9, 2010
French Connection Workshop I (East Lansing) – April 14, 2010
Jean Francoise Pouget visit to MSU, April 9-15 2010
Jean Poudivigne visit to MSU April 9-15, 2010
Extension Educators visit to France, (with Nicholls), October 15-24, 2010
MSU Hosts 2 SupAgro Students, Spring Semester


Wright Accompany Mi Farmer and MSU students, June 23-July 3, 2011
French Connection Workshop II (Linden) – May 9, 2011
Fabrice Dreyfus and Yuna Chiffoleau visit MSU, March 28-April 6 2011
Yuna Chiffoleau Seminar, March 29, 2011
French Student Reception, April 5, 2011
Lucie Sirieix visit to MSU, September 7-14, 2011
Lucie Sirieix Seminar, Sept 9, 2011
Extension Educators Visit to France (with Bingen), Sept 27-Oct 11, 2011
MSU Hosts 2 SupAgro Students, Spring Semester


Wright Guest Lecture SupAgro, October 16-30 and November 18, 2012
MSU Hosts 2 SupAgro Students, Spring Semester


MSU Hosts 1 SupAgro Student, Spring Semester

Project Personnel

Jim Bingen, Ph.D.
Phil Howard, Ph.D.
Sarah Nicholls, Ph.D.
Wynne Wright, Ph.D.