What if there was only one dairy farm left in Finistère in 2050? The question may seem absurd and yet … Over the past fifty years, the number of milk producers in Finistère has been divided by fifteen. From more than 30,000 in 1970, there are only around 2,500 today. And, every month, new farmers choose or are forced to stop their activity, often without a buyer for their farm.
Documentary maker from Douarnas passionate about agricultural issues, Mathurin Peschet took an interest in this inexorable decline for his latest documentary, entitled “The Last of the Milkmen”. “I looked into the subject in 2015, when the milk quotas ended. There were big signs that read “Milk War”, ”recalls the director. “When I started talking about it, I was told that it was one more crisis, that it would go away quickly. But when I made the first contacts, I realized that milk producers were disappearing ”.
“They face contradictory injunctions”
From Pouldergat to Brussels, via Guengat, Quimperlé and the Salon de l’Agriculture, Mathurin Peschet called on many players in the sector to question this movement that nothing seems to be able (or to want?) To stop: conventional farmers, organic or in retraining, cooperative administrator, economist or member of the European Commission.
All of them, at their own level, shed light on this disappearance, accelerated by globalization and the race for productivity in which producers are drawn, who have little say in the instructions of the dairies to which they are linked. “On the one hand, society tells the farmers that they are bastards and polluters and on the other hand, the dairies order them to produce even more and to enlarge their herds. The operators face two contradictory injunctions ”, notes Mathurin Peschet.
“Agriculture is hard on the peasants”
Tired of this schizophrenia, or simply unable to keep up financially, some choose to stop. This is the case of Jean-François Griffon, former breeder of Pouldergat, in tears when talking about the animals that have deserted the stable. “I was asked from 40 animals to 45, then from 45 to 50, then from 50 to 60… Agriculture is hard with the peasants”, he breathes in front of the camera of the Douarnenist director.
Others continue the fight and trace their own path: sometimes by choosing to keep in contact with their animals at all costs, or by automating certain crucial stages of the profession, via heavy investments in milking robots, for example. “Breeders are increasingly attracted to new technologies, especially young people. This makes it possible to free up time for oneself, in a very difficult on-call job, ”notes Mathurin Peschet. “But more robots also means fewer cows in the fields. Is this progress? », He asks himself, without wanting to answer for the actors, or the future viewers of the documentary. The director says it bluntly: “I don’t know the end of the story”.
“The last of the milkmen”, Wednesday March 3, at 11:20 pm, on France 3 Bretagne. 52-minute documentary directed by Mathurin Peschet, co-produced by Mille et Une Films and Tébéo.
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