the Court of Auditors recommends “a significant reduction in the herd”

This drop would in no way jeopardize France’s food sovereignty objectives, according to the report of the Court of Auditors. Adobe Stock.

In this same report, the rue Cambon institution also suggests supporting the breeders most in difficulty “in a necessary reconversion”.

While the French cattle herd decreases year by year and that more and more breeders are giving up, this is an unexpected reversal on the part of the Court of Auditors. In its latest report published on Monday on public support for cattle breeders between 2015 and 2022, the institution makes two shocking recommendations, which should undoubtedly provoke the anger of professionals.

Les Sages de la rue Cambon, who consider that the cattle breeding production model remains “fragile“despite public support”very high», and highlight «unfavorable climate balance“, do not go there by four paths. They call fordefine and make public a cattle herd reduction strategy“, even though the public authorities and the sectors have been fighting for years to maintain this breeding and against the ongoing decapitalization of livestock. A trend still observed between 2020 and 2021 (-2.1% dairy cows and -1.4% suckler cows), and which has accelerated further in recent months.

Compliance with France’s commitments to reduce methane emissions (concluded in the international Global Methane Pledge agreement) necessarily calls for a significant reduction in livestock“, indeed notes the Court of Auditors – without giving a precise figure -, which underlines that cattle breeding is “responsible in France for 11.8% of CO2 equivalent emissions, comparable to those of residential buildings in the country”, mainly because of the methane produced during the digestion of animals.

Read alsoExhausted by the crisis, more and more dairy and cattle farmers are giving up

Retraining of the breeders most in difficulty

According to its report, this reduction would in no way jeopardize the objectives of food sovereignty from France. “This reduction can easily be reconciled with the nutritional needs of the French, a third of them consuming more than the ceiling of 500 g per week of red meat recommended by the national health nutrition plan.“, he points.

On the other hand, the Court of Auditors suggests reviewing the support systems for breeders. “The logic for allocating aid should evolve by crossing the axes of economic performance and socio-environmental performance. (…) It is a question of moving towards a model of farms that is both economically efficient and produces positive externalities for the environment or the economy of rural areas.», Claims the institution. For breedersmost in difficulty“, she recommends to accompany them”in a necessary reconversion“, either “to other production systems“, or outright to help them to “change career direction“. What undoubtedly make the main interested parties cough.

Judging the current support mechanisms for retraining “insufficient“, the Court of Auditors thus recommends broadening the base of beneficiaries and increasing credits for retraining. Another idea mentioned in the 137-page report, the Court of Auditors considers that “the production of energy (biogas by methanation, electricity in the context of agrivoltaism) can constitute an opportunity to be seized by French breeders», «both to diversify income and to contribute to the energy transition“.

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