In Giat, agricultural activity shapes a bucolic landscape, where patches, ponds and streams alternate. Livestock farming is the main activity in this territory marked by the rural exodus with small farms, far from industrial farms developed in other French regions, at the center of heated debates. A farm with a capacity of 1,000 pigs, affiliated with a cooperative, did indeed receive the green light from the municipality at the end of the year to settle at the foot of the Massif Central, and the city council gave its approval.
“He is a young breeder who is taking over his father’s farm. There are already pigsties in the city and his project is part of this sector”, explains Didier Sénégas-Rouvière, mayor of the city of 800 inhabitants. But for opponents, a pigsty of this capacity, with animals fattened inside the buildings, is a real threat to the environment and quality of life. According to them, the main black point: the spreading of slurry – pig excrement – which makes it possible to fertilize the farmers’ gardens. “It’s a territory with surface water, so everything will end up directly in the water with consequences for biodiversity,” says Arnaud Chapal, a retiree leading the protest.
“La Creuse is not a garbage can! »
This resident of Basville (Creuse), a few kilometers away, founded an association to appeal to the administrative court. The same concern on the part of the Fishermen’s Federation: “there is a risk of pollution of the Sioulet, the only river where there are still wild trout”, estimates Michel Vigier, local official. Associations such as L214 or France Nature Environnement are also beginning to mobilize.
In its decree, the city hall specifies that the spreading plan presents an excess of phosphorus – the main cause of pollution of water courses – while granting a period of five years to the breeder to “conform”. “Let’s not wait five years! La Creuse is not a garbage can. It is now that we have to stop, because there are all the other projects behind it”, emphasizes Arnaud Chapal. “Industrialists know they can’t go to Brittany anymore, so they go to underserved areas like ours,” he says.
An “omerta” around the archive or a dispute between vacationers?
False, replies Christine Roguet, project manager at the Pork Institute: creators favor “areas where production is important, because there is already a network of tools and skills”. “Why prevent a young person who has a project in a low-density area? “, she questions her, assuring that “technological progress and the oversight of creators” now limit environmental risks. For her, the issue arises mainly from food autonomy: for the swine sector, the self-supply rate in France is 100%, but it reaches 135% in Germany and 200% in Spain. “Do people prefer to eat Spanish pork? she asks. As for the spreading of slurry, “it is a natural fertilizer and it will always be that in less chemical fertilizers”, according to her.
But Xavier Dubois, 39, and his partner Diane Chastang, 35, who grow organic vegetables near Basville, refuse to “choose between plague and cholera.” They fear the worst ever since they discovered that the slurry would be dumped on lots located above their land. “We are not activists, but we ask ourselves: what will be the consequences, how will this be controlled? “, asks Xavier Dubois, evoking an “omerta” around the archive. In fact, no breeder contacted by AFP would speak.
In Fernoël, a village close to the operation, “everyone is against it, but people don’t want to say that. Nobody moves because they are cousins or farmers themselves”, testifies Marie-Claude Berger, a resident who also fears “olfactory pollution”. “My neighbor can’t sleep anymore, she’s afraid she won’t be able to sell her house”, she breathes. The mayor of Giat sees the opponents as “a minority of people who do not live year-round in the region and, above all, defend their second home problems under the guise of ecology”.