Conteville (France) (AFP)
"We are worried about harvests especially, if the analyzes are not good, it would be the worst case scenario": like Aline, who runs a dairy farm in Normandy, farmers are worried after the fire of Lubrizol chemical plant in Rouen.
50 km north-east of the accident site in Conteville (Seine-Maritime), Aline Catoir shows her dismay after the milking of her 60 dairy cows.
"Yesterday evening (Saturday), around 9 pm, we had the order to throw the milk.We had three days of stock as usual, the milkman had to spend last night.So we threw more than 5.000 liters of milk: the production three days in the slurry tank, "she sighs, showing the spilled liquid.
On Thursday, the prefecture of Seine-Maritime asked "farmers not to harvest their production pending further clarification" in the name of the precautionary principle.
"There, everyone respects the prefectural will to postpone harvests for a few days, but we will not be able to wait very long," warns the 35-year-old farmer.
Sébastien Catoir also wonders about the perimeter of "freezing" of crops selected by the authorities. "One wonders how the area was defined, we are there, but I know people who are not in the list who had roofs of cars that were black! This poses some questions," he says. . The prefecture said Saturday that 112 municipalities in the department, which may have been affected by the black cloud, were concerned with the "freezing" of crops.
According to Patrice Faucon, president of the FNSEA Seine-Maritime, "anxiety is predominant because everything is blocked: the eggs are not collected, the milk is not collected ... It's complicated", plague-t- he.
"We do not really know the material that burned" during the fire of the chemical plant, he told AFP, before announcing that the agricultural union would file a complaint against X at the prosecutor's office of Rouen and would become a civil party to have access to the file.
- question on compensation -
In Longuerue, another small village typical of the Normandy countryside, Guillaume Leroy, whose exploitation has a surface of 160 hectares (drilling, wheat, barley and rapeseed) and who deals with 140 dairy cows, remembers the day of Thursday.
"We had especially the smells that came around 9 o'clock in the morning, then quickly we realized soot and so on.These were probably already there before but they became blatant around 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning "he recalls.
"We realized that it could be harmful, what is it going to give our flocks, our crops, it's a big, big question mark," he adds.
The farmer is also particularly worried about corn. "You have to know that it's 70% of the diet of my cows, so if I can not harvest I will not know what to do."
For many farmers, who have already had to deal with the hassle and losses associated with this year's drought, there is the question of the amount of damage and the question of compensation.
"They impose a lot of things on the principle of precaution, it makes sense: we are there to feed people, not to poison them! But we suffer a prejudice for which we are in no way responsible and what the demand administration represents costs ", explains Jocelyn Pesqueux, president of the dairy section (FDSEA) of the department.
© 2019 AFP