Animal husbandry has become a common target of criticism in the media and public opinion. Many books, magazine covers, columnists have made it their “hobbyhorse” to such an extent that a national professional manager, himself a breeder, recently wondered if there was not a new kind of “Emissary ox”.
The mad cow health crisis was one of the triggers for this phenomenon. The globalization of trade and the dissemination of information also often show breeding systems of dimensions and functioning without what currently exists in France or even in Europe.
Consumers, who have for the most part lost their “rural roots”, find it difficult to make the connection between livestock systems, the functioning of sectors and the animal products they consume. It is therefore for the meat and milk sectors to engage in dialogue to show their strengths while explaining the constraints that are imposed on them, to seek in maximum transparency the most virtuous practices to win back and consolidate the confidence of consumers and citizens.
Renewing dialogue with society, raising awareness of farming methods and their justifications, products and associated sectors, giving consumers confidence and envy, are all urgent and crucial projects for the sectors.
Encouraging young people to set up in breeding, in butchering, to work in slaughterhouses and upstream and downstream industries, where many positions are to be filled, would make it possible to meet the challenge of renewing the herbivore sectors. Without the know-how of all these men and women, it is not only the capacity to produce and therefore food security, but also all of French gastronomy and the vitality of rural areas that would be compromised.
Gaining in competitiveness at all links and securing supplies through contracts between breeders and buyers are avenues explored by the sectors to face increased global competition.
Recognizing and remunerating the heritage, cultural, environmental, economic and social services provided by breeding and its sectors will make elected officials and citizens aware of the importance of these activities. This will help to sustain them, in a context where they encounter economic difficulties and damage to its image.