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An economist in movement

Vincent Requillart is a reserved man. With his calm voice and honest look, silence often develops. He has a simple explanation for the twists and turns that have shaped his career as an economist at INRA: “because I have been lucky to be able to choose my subjects and those with whom I have worked.”  He weighs his words carefully, trying to be as accurate as possible, and has optimised his collaborations so as to nourish his spirit of adventure.

Vincent Requillart, research director at the Toulouse School of Economics © DRCopyrith, Baptiste Hamousin
By Julie Cheriguene, translated by Vicky Hawken
Updated on 12/01/2017
Published on 11/09/2017

Agronomy was always an option for him, initially when he considered taking over his parents’ farm, and then at the National Agricultural Institute Paris-Grignon, which was where he wrote his dissertation in the Rural Economics Laboratory at INRA Versailles-Grignon. “That was in the early days of work on the energy uses of biomass. And I loved it! But I did not think I would come back to INRA one day.” However, when the laboratory suggested a PhD project on the energy uses of cereal straws a year later, he accepted without hesitation.

Dialogue is always more interesting!

Alternating currents

When he finally joined INRA in 1984 as a research engineer, he continued his work on the economic evaluation of producing energy from biomass: “there had been few economic analyses. Research tended to focus on the technical aspects of this issue”, he explains. It was at that time that INRA’s work in economics reached a decisive turning point, from the rural economy towards the modern economy. “This change in direction was very important. I was seeing it as a young recruit", he remembers. “So I completed the correct training and obtained a postgraduate degree (DEA) in economics, mathematics and econometrics.”
In early 1990, he became a research scientist and followed the dynamic evolution of his laboratory by applying the concepts and tools of industrial economics to agricultural policy, with particular focus on the sugar sector. “I learnt a great deal thanks to the arrival of young recruits who had trained in economics at university, and whose skills complemented those of agronomists such as me!”
Born in Arras, Vincent Requillart still tries to live as close as possible to nature. In Toulouse, he uses an electric bicycle to travel whenever he can. He moved to Toulouse in 1994, driven by a desire, shared with his family, to leave the Paris region, and he joined the Economics Laboratory at that time when it was seeing major growth. “It was a challenge! But I was closer to the mountains…" he remembers about this life-changing choice.  

Guided by societal issues

A conception of value...

For ten years, Vincent Requillart worked on the challenges facing the dairy sector, developing modelling tools that could forecast the effects of different CAP reforms. “We were interacting with representatives of the dairy industry to adjust the simulation mechanisms, as well as with the European Commission, notably to reflect upon the impacts of ending milk quotas. Dialogue is always more interesting than simply submitting a report”.
He also took responsibility for a research team linked to Université Toulouse 1, before becoming the head of the laboratory in 1996. “I enjoyed it. The situation was not simple because the two teams in the laboratory belonged to two different schools of economic thought, but dialogue gradually developed between them." From these experiences of management, he retained a fundamental principle: “It is important to create a trusting relationship.”
In 2007, the team he led moved to join the GREMAQ (2) at the University and the Toulouse School of Economics. “I arrived with my skills in a completely different, and more competitive, environment. It was very exciting from a scientific point of view.”

… and free exchange

It was at that time that Vincent Requillart started to look at another field: the effects of public nutritional policies, still using predictive simulation models. The questions broadened to different aspects of climate change: which policies could assure a diet that was both healthier and more environmentally-friendly? “I have always been guided first of all by societal issues, using them to identify pertinent research questions.”
After spending a year in a Californian research laboratory, Vincent Requillart returned to INRA in 2016.  A plan he had been developing, as always with his family, for the previous 10 years. “It was great, with an excellent lifestyle and 100% of my time devoted to research”, he recalls. And tomorrow?  "There is still a lot to do" he replies, with a broad smile. "I am currently working on characterising the impacts of agrifood innovations on health and the environment, which is a project in collaboration with the Did’It metaprogramme (3). “Developing debate with other disciplines is the global challenge of his research environment.

(1) Toulouse School of Economics - Research  (TSE-R) is a Université Toulouse 1 Capitole – CNRS – INRA – EHESS Joint Research Unit which resulted from the merger of three research units.
(2) Within the Mathematical and Quantitative Economics Research Group (GREMAQ), the food team focuses on the determinants of dietary behaviours (role of supply and demand) and their links with health and the economic structuring of agrifood sectors (analysis of the mechanisms of competition within different sectors and company strategies).
(3) Diet impacts and determinants: interactions and transitions. This INRA metaprogramme focuses on the determinants of dietary practices and their effects on well-being and health: http://www.didit.inra.fr/

Mini-CV

  • 59 years old, married with two children
  • 1980: qualified as an engineer from National Agricultural Institute Paris-Grignon
  • 1984: PhD in agricultural economics, National Agricultural Institute Paris-Grignon
  • 1986: Postgraduate degree (DEA) in Mathematical and Econometric Economics, Université Paris 1
  • 1984: recruited by INRA as a research engineer in the Rural Economics Laboratory, Île-de-France Versailles-Grignon Research Centre
  • 1990: becomes INRA research scientist
  • 1994: appointed Director of Research at INRA and joins the Economics Laboratory at INRA’s Occitanie-Toulouse Research Centre
  • Hobbies: the mountains, in any season!

Awards and distinctions

  • 2016: Research Discovery Award from the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE)
  • 2014: Foundation Award from the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE)
  • 1996: Outstanding European Review of Agricultural Economics Journal Article Award
  • 1990: Award from the Academy of Agriculture

For more information on his work

• Dietary guidelines, information policies and consumer behaviours. Read the article
• Behaviour, dietary preferences and health. Nutritional policies: changing consumption behaviours or modifying food supplies? See the video (in French)