Slaughterhouses are not the only target of L214, an animal protection association which works for full recognition of the sensitivity of animals. Farms are also not in the odor of sanctity among animal defenders. David Eychenne, spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne and organic breeder in Ariège, sees things differently, although he also defends animal welfare in his own way.
France’s leading sheep region, Occitanie is also home to hardy cattle breeds whose breeding is intimately linked to the territory, such as the Aubrac cow in Aveyron or the Gascon cow in the Pyrenees. David Eychenne lives in Ariège, so he naturally chose the organic Gasconne which he has been raising since 2000 near Montbel.
At home, no pesticides. He has the right to use a maximum of two antibiotics per year. But he prefers to have a little longer and considered rotations on the pastures to fight against parasitism. “The less we intensify production, the less problem we have,” he says.
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He is also an activist of the Confédération paysanne – spokesperson at the Occitanie level – who has just spent two days in a conference on pastoralism in the face of the rewilding of agricultural land and summer pastures. Because it should not be forgotten. It is the herds that maintain the mountain. Also, it is as a man concerned about the living conditions of his cows that he addresses the militants of L214. “The positive point is that they made people aware, including the farmers, that there could be a problem in the slaughterhouses,” he concedes.
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But he sees two downsides to the practices of activists. “They go to the little ones. We don’t see them in the big ones, like Bigard in Castres. And they have no nuance, they are always dependent.”
“What they want, he continues, is the eradication of livestock farming. On that, we will never agree. They have an idyllic vision of nature that has never existed.”
“Aid yes, provided that there is a valuation of the products behind”
However, he agrees with them on one point, the failings of intensive farming. “The breeders are singled out but we must not throw stones at them, he adds immediately. It is the financiers who push the wheel. We must help them to change the system.”
It is based on the example of a 42-hectare farm with 20 dairy cows which supports three associates with little help from the CAP, in Castelnau-Durban in Ariège. “They are doing very well making organic tomme. While their neighbor who has 200 ha, he runs everywhere. Of course, he is all alone.”
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To help farmers, he cites conversion aid but also a better distribution of CAP aid. “The 10 or 11 billion on France, it would be good to arrow them. They should be distributed by assets. But be careful, he adds. In Occitania, we gargle with virtuous practices. But in Ariège, where we have many of the surfaces in natural grassland, that does not prevent light lamb or weanling from continuing to leave for Italy in the conventional sector.
For him, “it is not enough to help if, behind, there is not a valuation of the products”.