This morning we were surprised to see on entering Cortambert that the nameplate had been wrapped in plastic film and sprayed with the words “A VENDRE”. It was part of an ongoing protest by farmers who say that our local villages will soon die if the government goes ahead with its plans.
Protest on entering Bray (photo JSL)
Trouble has been brewing for some time. The government want to reduce the number of agricultural areas that qualify for subsidies from the EU to support agricultural activity in areas of low potential. There was mayhem in February in the southwest when the motorways around Toulouse were blocked with burning tyres and straw, and Montauban was completely cut off. The situation was likened to a civil war.
It seems that the government will not listen to people unless they resort to force. Farmers are especially well equipped with tractors to block motorways and tons of manure mixed with dead rats to dump in the centre of Paris. Also potatoes to block the streets, and rotten apples to throw at the police. Last September there was a protest about the proposed ban of glyphosate weedkillers and the farmers blocked the Champs-Elysée with hay. In a protest about food labelling the farmers paraded around Carrefour releasing scores of pigeons. These shows of strength are relatively frequent in France.
The president of the Young Farmers Union said that Mr Macron wants to be the World’s Mr Clean but he is the gravedigger of agriculture. These words were repeated this morning by our mayor, Pierre-Jean Bardin, who has threatened to resign if this reassessment goes ahead. With him would go Jean-Luc Delpeuch the president of the community of communes of Clunisois, and the mayors of Berzé-le-Châtel and Bray. “We do not do it cheerfully but this is the last card in our possession to denounce an absurdity”. The mayors of the other five communes affected will give their support and will press the Prefect of Saône-et-Loire to come to see for himself the difficulties in farming this area.
From the left the mayor of Blanot, Pierre-Jean Bardin mayor of Cortambert, Jean-Luc Delpeuch and the mayors of Donzy and Chissey (photo JSL)
The final decision will be taken in May. We sincerely hope that the proposed declassification will be dropped and that Pierre-Jean remains our mayor.