By Hugues-Olivier Dumez
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It is now a reality. Traditional Southwestern dishes are becoming a rare commodity in restaurants. Consequence of the Avian Fluthe duck breast and the duck confit disappeared from the menu in most establishments in Toulouse that worked with local producers.
“Last year was already a disaster. This year, it’s chaos “
“If you find it in restaurants right now, it’s probably Bulgarian imports,” warns Lionel Candelon, the president of the “Angry Ducks” association. And to add: “We are barely in the process of relaunching production! Last year was already a disaster. This year, it’s chaos.
This breeder at Castillon-Debatesin the Gers, recalls that France “lost 80% of its production”, by slaughtering “16 million animals”. Some breeders, like Lionel Candelon, have still not resumed activity.
“We are waiting for the arrival of ducklings or cans at the end of August, beginning of September, to produce foie gras. But you will never have the quantities necessary to be able to meet the demand for the holiday season. The sector poultry and waterfowl was devastated”.
The Gersois estimates that it will take at least a year and a half, “provided there are no other crises next winter”, to “return to last year’s level of production”. A level which had already fallen to “24 million animals produced annually in 2021, against 38 million animals previously. We will not pass the 17 million this year ”.
The duck, a “luxury food”
The duck has therefore “become a luxury commodity again”, emphasizes Lionel Candelon, while recalling that it was already ” A premium product before the industrialization of the sector 15-20 years ago”.
Faced with the measures of confinement (lock in an enclosed place) poultry imposed during the health crisis, Lionel Candelon regrets the lack of dialogue between the The Minister of Agriculture and the “people on the ground”. “The confinement did not work”, but the authorities “do not take the time to discuss, they do not want to listen to us”. The breeder recalls that the sector has been warning for many years about this health crisis.
“Claustration is not an answer”
On the very principle of confinement, Lionel Candelon is not hostile. He also made major investments on its operation to comply with the national standard of biosecurity. “Being able to shelter the animals in winter in buildings is very good,” he admits. “But this is not an answer to bird flu. The virus is transmitted by multiple routes, from one building to another”. Moreover, for next winter, “we have no viable response to not relive this disaster”.
He recalls that the H5N1 and the H5N8 are “avian viruses of Chinese origin” which are spread by “migratory birds”.
What about a vaccine?
Lionel Candelon, however, keeps hope with the arrival of a vaccine “within three years”. The latter has been in development “since 2014”, but the means “have never been put in place” to launch it quickly.
It is, however, the ultimate weapon against the virus. Without the vaccine, the sector is doomed to disappear. We are not going to slaughter 16 million animals every year. The State will not be able to inject three billion euros each year into the sector to repair the damage.
In the meantime, the breeder is campaigning to find outdoor breeding. “It’s non-negotiable! »
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