Fields as far as the eye can see. In the shelter of a valley in the Leonardo countryside, the livestock buildings almost blend into the relief. Clogs on the feet, the farm manager, in his sixties, measures the progress made by Breton production over the past twenty years. A pride almost swept away by the market situation which remunerates farmers well below the cost of production. The consequence of a 25% increase in the price of food and, above all, of the lowest price since the beginning of the fall in prices last spring.
At two years of retirement, the man prefers to remain anonymous, for “fear of a backlash”, to denounce “the pressure” undergone by the breeders. “I don’t blame the people, but the system,” he insists, pointing to the inconsistencies of a sector; especially producer groups and banks, which he considers too distant from breeders.
Less and less profitability
Last year, the sixty-year-old however thought the difficulties remote. The French pork brand had proven its effectiveness. “Consumers are buying more and more French. And yet, we are being asked more and more to be competitive with less and less profitability. “
Registered for 20 years in a quality approach, Blue white heart, the farmer no longer uses antibiotics systematically and feeds his pigs with quality feed. Despite everything, the results are not up to par. “This market niche is also losing momentum”, confides the breeder, pointing the finger at the responsibility of the large distribution “which no longer refers” to the label as much. However, he remains convinced that the future of pig production lies in diversity.
Well-being and environment
In these circumstances, societal pressure is not the breeder’s primary concern. Pierre also considers that he has continuously progressed in his practices. “Until 2000, it’s true, we didn’t really ask ourselves questions about the environment and the animal wellbeing. Giving pigs toys makes me sick, it’s not a pet! But we have to turn a constraint into an advantage. “
This year, the operation completed nearly a kilometer of embankments planted to protect the neighboring stream. The slurry is largely exported as compost after passing through the treatment station created in 2005 with four neighboring farmers.
The future in question
Without benefiting from the expected returns of heavy financial and personal investments, Leonardo fears for the future. In this economic context, the issue of the renewal of generations is a real gamble in which he does not seem ready to commit the future of his son, five years after having been joined by a partner.
At the age of 60, Pierre, “after having fed a lot of people cheaply despite the quality of the product that has changed significantly”, cannot even dream of a nice retirement. He made his calculation which leaves him with a bitter feeling: it will not be more than € 800 per month.
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