The High Environmental Value (HVE) corresponds to the third and highest level of environmental certification for farms from French agriculture Ministry. This operating certification is a voluntary process, accessible to all sectors and built around four environmental themes: protection of biodiversity, reduction of phytosanitary products, management of fertilization and water resources.
The French agriculture Ministry showed that this system was one of the solutions to support and enhance the value of farms in the ecological transition of their agricultural practices.
Environmental certification is designed according to three levels of environmental progress and level 3, or High Environmental Value (HVE) presented in this document, is based on performance obligations measured by environmental performance indicators.
HVE certification can lead the beef farmer to:

  • Stand out for retail: the rewarding statement "from a high environmental value operation" labelled to the product sets it apart from its competitors.
  • Communicate about its practices: having your environmentally friendly practices officially recognized can be an adequate response to the demands of citizens and consumers.
  • Promote its products: in France and for export.
  • Provide collective catering: under the recent EGALIM law, products from HVE operations are counted in 50% of sustainable and quality products. Being certified thus offers the prospect of accessing these new markets and secures some of the outlets.

The certification is focused on 4 environmental compartments: management of nitrogen fertilization, the strategy for phytosanitary protection, biodiversity and irrigation. The carbon footprint is not yet part of the scope of certification. To be certified, you need a minimum of 10 points in each environmental compartment. These points are obtained using different criteria, with results objectives, advantages for the livestock systems, but also points of attention.

Nitrogen fertilization management:
Points are awarded for the presence of legumes, especially through alfalfa, meteils or temporary meadows. Additional points are given for ground cover during winter in particular by cover crops, fall crops, but also permanent and temporary grasslands. Finally some points could be obtained limiting the nitrogen balance, which must be less than 60 uN/ha.

Phytosanitary products management:
Points are awarded for untreated surfaces, especially the grasslands and the respect to a low index of treatment frequency.

Biodiversity management:
Points are awarded for a minimum share of surfaces in agroecological infrastructure (permanent grasslands, grass buffer strips, wood borders, hedges, isolated trees, etc.). Additional points are given for elements of landscape, the diversity of cultures and the diversity of animal species

Irrigation management:
Points are awarded for the recording of practices, use of Decision Support Tool and optimization of inputs.

The certification is conducted on farm by a third parts certificator such as farming advising companies. 


Some HVE measures can lead to some trade off with economics: land productivity depending on items granting points: level of fertilization or level of phytosanitary treatments for example can lead to a decrease in yields for the engaged surface.

Socioeconomic resilience

  • Meat sold with an HVE label can pretend to a higher price of retail.
  • A young farmer who settles down and plans to be HVE certified in the 4 years following its installation benefits from an increase in subsidies varying from 3,250 €in the plain at 5,000 € in Mountain. This project must be specified in the Business Plan of installation.
  • As part of the covid recovery plan, a 2,500 € tax exemption is granted to farms HVE (only once, in 2021 or 2022). This exemption is granted on the condition that the operation has a current certificate valid on 12/31/2021 or issued in progress year 2022.

Animal health and welfare

Production efficiency and meat quality

Environmental sustainability


The number of farms certified as High Environmental Value has increased significantly in just six months last year: there are 14,333 certified farms on January 1, 2021 against 8,218 farms on July 1, 2020, which represents an increase of 74% during the second half of the year. 2020. In 2020, nearly 9,000 additional HVE certified farms were recorded. The beef farms represent approximately 400 of the certified farms. The number for 2021 will be available soon.

 This rise illustrates the commitment of a growing number of farmers, all sectors combined, in the ecological transition, confirming the enthusiasm for the system and the will of farmers to join the agroecological transition. France had set quantified objectives in its Biodiversity plan with 15,000 certified farms of High Environmental Value in 2022 and 50,000 in 2030. The threshold of 15,000 farms should be reached more than a year in advance.

 On January 1, 2021, farms certified as High Environmental Value cover at least 617,482 hectares of the French agricultural area, compared to 366,325 hectares six months earlier. Farms certified as High Environmental Value therefore represent at least 2.3% of the French surfaces to date (for example, certified organic farms represent 9.5% of the French surfaces).

Additional information’s could be found on French ministry website (French) and on the website from the HVE association (French).

Specifications for HVE level 3 (points awarded and items checked):
- Plan de controle niveau 3 option A (French)
- Plan de controle niveau 3 option B (French)


Tout savoir sur la Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE) (French)
Certification HVE Elevage - Chambres d'agriculture Centre-Val de Loire
HVE : présentation de la démarche de certification Haute Valeur Environnementale (French)