The project to extend a piggery to 9,000 animals raises concerns in South Berry

Part of Boischaut Sud, this territory between the Indre and the Cher, has been wondering for several weeks: will the pigsty located between Feusines and Pérassay expand? For the moment, the decision is in the hands of the prefect of Indre. A public inquiry commission has already issued a favorable opinion on the case and the prefecture has until around mid-July to decide.

A pigsty that can accommodate up to just over 9,000 animals

The project is led by Philippe Van den Broek, farmer already at the head of a pigsty of 4,000 animals. The extension could accommodate up to 9,225 animalswith the objective “to sell nearly 15,600 pigs a year”, according to the submitted authorization application file. Moreover, the biogas unit will also be extended, with the creation of two semi-buried concrete tanks of 5,000m3. The projected methanisation tonnage is 17,200 tonnes per year.

“This project worries us by its magnitude”

An extension that raised questions and concerns among residents of the area : Feusines, Pérassay, Sainte-Sévère-sur-Indre, Lignerolles, Urciers. They created a collective: “No to the mega-pig pen of Feusines-Pérassay”. A petition has also been launched online. As of May 19, it has collected 3,728 signatures.

This project worries us because of its magnitude“says Anne, member of the collective. The fears relate mainly to three points : risks of leaks from the anaerobic digestion unit which would degrade the water tables, a project that consumes too much water, and an attack on animal well-being.

Fears around the biogas unit?

Regarding the methanization unit, residents highlight an incident that occurred in 2020 in Brittany, which had temporarily deprived 180,000 inhabitants of water, as well as a response from the Ministry of Ecological Transition, indicating an “increase” in related incidents. methanisation over the “last five years”. Local residents are also circumspect about the ecological benefits of anaerobic digestion.

A question that Philippe Van den Broek does not understandthe methanization unit generates green energy. It will ensure the equivalent of the consumption of 1,200 households in Berry” underlines the breeder, whose family has been settled here for more than 50 years. “I will be challenged about large vats and I, in my file, have just put large vats in order to be able to control the moment of spreading the digestates. We are going to consume local cereals, we process agro-food products to feed them to the pigs, so we also participate in waste treatment. In terms of carbon footprint, we are extremely efficient.

Too much water consumption?

Another point put forward by the opponents, the water consumption of the new pigsty, estimated between 15,000 and 20,800 m3/year.The water situation in our department is already alarming. When we see the amount of water that would be used, we can worry” Anne sighs.

I called on the services concerned, namely the Sivom of Sainte-Sévère“answers the breeder.”They assured me that they could provide the volume I wanted to use. I left the skill to those who have it. I was told ‘You can use’, so I built the file in that format.

The issue of animal welfare

We are going to martyr 15,000 pigs, produce poor quality pork, all this to ultimately produce gas via methanation. It is not logical” plague Henriette, another member of the collective. “These pigs will be reared in spaces of 0.75 m2, on gratings, above a manure pit. These are not normal conditions for making quality meat” regret this resident.

During its visit to the farm, the commission of inquiry indicated that “animal welfare (is) complied with and in accordance with the requirements” concerning the animals already bred on the spot. In his answers to the same commission, the breeder indicates that the “ventilation“, the upkeep “clean and dry“, from “manipulable materials“added in boxes”to meet the occupation of pigs“, or a precise medical follow-up are so many elements that guarantee the well-being of the animals.

It is also specified:Breeding on slatted floors nevertheless brings together many advantages, which allows a controlled environment and often to do without antibiotics (in this case on the fattening part), which is less true in other breeding conditions.

Divided elected officials

Concerns about this expansion of the pigsty also divide local elected officials. The municipal council of Feusines, a small village of 200 inhabitants, voted an unfavorable (advisory) opinion, with five votes against, three for and two abstentions. “This type of industrial project does not correspond to the values ​​of the rural world“says the mayor of Feusines, Patrick Charasson. “Yes, agriculture is our primary economy in this territory. But for several decades, we have been working under reasoned and reasonable conditions. The industrialist has no place in our sector.”

I am not a financier – Breeder Philippe Van den Broek

Remarks that annoy Philippe Van den Broek. Its operation employs five employees. The extension would make it possible to hire two more. “I generate value in our small area of ​​​​South Berry, I still challenge all those who today are in our small rural area to generate jobs” point the breeder. “I hope that all those who will counter my case will also fight to generate jobs in the area.”

More broadly, the farmer rejects this denomination considered negative “industrial agriculture”: “In industry, in crafts, when it works well, we are very happy that the structure is growing. In agriculture, when a person has the skills, the means and wishes to develop, it is suspicious.

“I am not a financier” continues Philippe Van Broek, also president of the UGPPC, the union of pig groups in the Centre-Val de Loire region.I love what I do, I’ve been doing this job for 25 years. What interests me, beyond the technical aspects of the case, is living here. That’s all we are capable of developing. I think we (farmers, Editor’s note) obviously has things to improve. Agriculture has never stopped progressing and improving.

And as for the extension of piggeries, which are creating a stir elsewhere in France, it is inevitable according to the breeder. “There are a lot of administrative and technical constraints today to be able to set up a pig production site, even as small as it may be.”

“We use technical means which may seem enormous, but it is precisely to be able to have the least possible impact on the environment. Smaller farms will not have the financial means to put in place technical measures protection of the environment required by French law. So don’t be surprised if the projects that come out only come out under a minimum size equivalent to mine.

The decision is therefore in the hands of the prefect of Indre. In the event of a favorable opinion, the collective “No to the mega pigsty of Feusines-Pérassay” does not exclude filing an appeal.

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