Livestock "has a future" in France despite climate change, assured Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday trying to deflate a beginning of controversy triggered by a report of the Court of Auditors which recommends reducing the cattle herd to reduce CO2 emissions. According to this text published on May 22, the government should "define and make public a strategy to reduce" the number of cows raised in France to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Europe's largest beef producer and second largest dairy herd behind Germany, the France has around 17 million head of cattle. Cattle farming accounts for 11.8% of the country's emissions. Reducing the impact of livestock and nitrogen fertilizers are among the avenues considered by the government to reduce greenhouse gases.
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"We have a model of cattle farming that we can be proud of, a model of cattle farming that I want to affirm has a future in our country," tempered the Prime Minister during the session of questions to the government at the National Assembly. "Yes, cattle farming will have to play its full part in the agricultural transition" and "will have to evolve to find a solid and sustainable economic model", but "no, it will not be the adjustment variable", continued the head of government. "To be successful, the ecological and agricultural transition must be done with the French with the breeders and not against them," she said.
"Livestock farming can have beneficial effects"
The farmers had denounced the recommendations of the Court of Auditors as an "attack" and a "provocation", demanding from the government "a rescue plan" and a drastic reduction in imports, which currently represent 25% of the beef consumed in France.
"Livestock can have beneficial effects for our environment," said the Prime Minister, arguing that "every year grasslands store 8 million tons of CO2" and that livestock "allows the construction of a network of hedgerows and agroecological infrastructure useful especially for soils". However, the Court of Auditors stated in its report that carbon sequestration by grasslands where animals graze was "far from offsetting emissions" from livestock farming.
"So I want to give farmers visibility on the challenges ahead and build with them an economically and environmentally sustainable future," insisted Élisabeth Borne.