Nearly 800 bulls will be slaughtered in Rodez after being brought back from Algeria where they spent two weeks without access to the territory. Since then, animal rights activists and farmers have cried foul. La Dépêche du Midi takes stock of the case.
An imbroglio that turns to scandal. Nearly 800 bulls, 780 exactly, have been repatriated from Algeria to France where they are to be slaughtered this weekend in Rodez, after more than two weeks of fruitless debates with the authorities in Algiers.
Livestock refused by Algeria
The story begins on September 3 when the ship “Nader. A” leaves the port of Sète to transport the animals to Algeria. Bad surprise, two days after the departure, the Algerian authorities announce that the unloading of cattle on their soil is finally prohibited. In question, according to the French authorities, a “difficulty of interpretation” of the health status of three animals.
Indeed, before the trip, the healthy bulls had been vaccinated against infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR). However, documents attached to their export certificate bore the words “IBR positive”, falsely suggesting that they were carriers of the virus. Despite a health clarification from France, Algeria still refused the entry of bulls into its territory “for regulatory reasons”. For its part, France repeated that there had been no “failure” as to the health rules to be respected.
Risk of foot-and-mouth disease
After more than two weeks of waiting in the port of Algiers and after “fruitless discussions”, France finally decided to bring the boat back and slaughter these 780 animals on its soil. Indeed, according to the government, the animals were “fed with hay” from Algeria, a country where foot-and-mouth disease, another highly contagious animal disease, is present.
The risk of contamination is “extremely minimal, but we cannot rule it out”, explained Paris before assuring that the cattle will not be “put back into the circuit of human consumption” once slaughtered. According to our colleagues from Free lunch, health analyzes were carried out on Thursday when the cargo arrived in the port of Sète. The results of these tests are not yet known.
Authorities accused of disregarding health requirements
In the meantime, this showdown between France and Algeria has not failed to upset animal defenders. The NGO Welfarm has thus stepped up to the plate: “We doubt that the problem comes from a risk of contamination due to foot-and-mouth disease: we believe that there was a risk of infection on board with the IBR disease”, said accused, Wednesday, Adrienne Bonnet, representative of Welfarm.
The association accuses the authorities of having “approved this transport of animals in defiance of health requirements” and ensures that around thirty animals died at the dock. “We have no information that would indicate a particular problem” on the state of health of the animals, for its part affirmed the Ministry of Agriculture, which specifies that the boat is approved and “has been the subject of an inspection from Sète” by the State services.
Events planned in Agen
Another voice to be indignant, that of the president of the Chamber of Agriculture of Lot-et-Garonne, Serge Bousquet-Cassagne. Indeed, the animals returned to Sète must be executed at the Rodez slaughterhouse and their corpses must then be incinerated at the rendering plant in the Passage d’Agen.
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However, according to our information, demonstrations could take place in front of the factory to protest against this decision considered unfair by many breeders. “This waste is incomprehensible, especially in the current context. We do not treat animals like car wrecks. And we do not throw meat like that”, protests Serge Bousquet-Cassagne, who proposes to him, to place the cattle “in quarantine and then put them back in the circuit to fatten them”.