Hard, hard to be a free range egg. Feared since this summer, two decrees aimed at preventing epidemics of avian flu in poultry farms were published on September 30 by the Ministry of Agriculture. One establishes a map of the departments most vulnerable to the H1N1 virus, spread by wild birds; the other defines biosecurity and prevention measures in areas at risk of dissemination, known as ZRD. The set, warns the Confédération paysanne and the Modef, threatens the future of small outdoor farms, as well as the sale of short-circuited birds.
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By favoring the confinement of animals in buildings in the event of a health alert, “create a right to produce for manufacturers and an impossibility to produce for free creators”, deplore the two unions in a joint press release. “Conversely, nothing is planned to reduce density, to limit the movement of live animals, flows, workers, but important factors in the spread of avian flu,” emphasize organizations even more.
50 cm2 parks around the huts
More specifically, the texts generalize the confinement to all farms, regardless of their size, as long as a moderate risk is identified. Until now, those with less than 3,500 animals benefited from a derogation. This will no longer be the case. Arrangements to allow animals to see the sky will still be possible. None is enough to reassure small breeders.
“We will be allowed to make small parks around our cabins, but in an extremely restricted perimeter,” explains Sylvie Colas, organic poultry farmer at Gers and departmental spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne. The decrees thus specify that, for short-circuited farms, “reduced course under the grid adjacent to a light building” can be provided, provided that the feeders and drinkers are sheltered. However, space will be limited. “For broilers, the planned density is 50 cmtwo per pet, continues Sylvie Colas. It’s ridiculous, when my birds benefit today from 8 mtwo per animal. »
Mishandling the layers, deceiving the consumer
The rule is the same for laying hens. They will also not be able to come out until they are ten weeks old – six weeks for ducks and geese – which will give them roughly two weeks of fresh air before being slaughtered. Finally, the whole of metropolitan France is potentially at stake, and the measure can be triggered when the level of risk so requires.
For many small creators, the measure risks sounding the death knell of their activity, when the construction or modernization of substantial buildings is, so to speak, impossible to operate. In addition, Modef and Confédération paysanne denounce a device that mistreats animals and deceives the consumer. Because, if the rules change, the labels adapt: organic or Label rouge will be able to stamp products from animals raised in confinement, be they eggs, foie gras or chickens. A mistake that unions refuse to endorse. “A free-range chicken scratches the ground, sees the light, finds a nutritional balance in the soil that affects the flavor quality of the product, explains Sylvie Colas again. Selling something else to the consumer is lying to him. »
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