Michel Saint-Martin, farmer and poultry breeder in Dému in the Gers, was one of the people present at the dam in his town in January. Encounter.
Poultry breeder in Dému, Michel Saint-Martin is not an activist for any agricultural union. But he was present at the dam in his town at the end of January. And even if the roadblocks have been gradually lifted since Matignon’s announcements, the Gersois is less categorical about the end of the mobilizations: “I think that the actions will continue. We will have more targeted roadblocks which will last less long. will perhaps block purchasing centers or supermarkets.”
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According to him, the government’s responses are insufficient: “We have had some promises… but they are only promises.”
From the kitchen to the farm
Michel grew up in a family of farmers: “I don’t have great memories of the job. My parents worked all the time, 7 days a week. It was hard. The slightest invoice in the mailbox was always complicated to resolve.
It is therefore towards the kitchen that this cooking enthusiast decides to head. And he will spend 20 years of his life there: “I loved cooking and baking. I first went to “gastros”, then to colleges in the Gers.”
However, 10 years ago, the chef decided to return to the environment in which he grew up: agriculture. The triggers for this professional shift were “good products”: “With good products, we have good dishes, with bad products, it’s more complicated… I wanted to produce good products myself. products.”
He then took over his father-in-law’s breeding, focusing on the short circuit: “He sold most of his poultry to cooperatives. When I took over the farm, I wanted to sell my poultry to individuals, so that they can find products that cannot be found in supermarkets.”
“It’s a fight to save your farm”
Since his installation, and apart from episodes of avian flu, business has been going perfectly for Michel: “Since I stopped the cooperative, my working conditions are better because I raise a smaller volume. In addition, the The chickens I sell are better paid.”
But despite everything, the 50-year-old breeder was present on the Dému agricultural dam. A presence that he considers obvious: “Even if things are going well for me, I feel concerned. In my soul, I know this profession of farmer.”
And Michel also knows all the problems that accompany his colleagues on a daily basis: “This agricultural world, which I have been around since I was born, is extremely difficult. Some work up to 7 days a week. When you are employed, that doesn’t happen never. So this mobilization is a fight to save your farm, to be paid correctly and to be able to live from it with dignity.”
“These roadblocks made it possible to create links”
Throughout France, the mixture of cries of anger and despair from farmers helped give rise to strong bonds: “These blockades made it possible to create links. We saw each other again one evening when the blockades were lifted, says Michel. Most of them said: next week, we will be depressed from not seeing each other.”
After weeks of collective struggle, the return to “solitude on our farms”, without a lasting solution to ensure a decent income, is ultimately what the breeder fears most for these colleagues. In the Gers as elsewhere in France.