On forests in Yonne, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau wants a “qualitative renewal with more sustainable species”.

On Saturday, November 19, 2022, two ministers will arrive in Yonne: Marc Fesneau for agriculture and food sovereignty, as well as Sylvie Retailleau for higher education and research. This trip to Auxerre, first, before a kindergarten in Cheu, falls on the subject of forests. In their programs in Ijaune, they should discuss with representatives of the “upstream forestry sector”: seed growers, nurserymen or even foresters in the prefecture and present the Priority Research Program and Equipment (PEPR) dedicated to the forest. On the eve of the visit, Minister Mark Fesneau answered our questions.

This trip belongs to the “forest of tomorrow”. What is it about?

We need to adapt to climate change, which is causing wildfires to increase in extent and affect new areas with episodes of drought and heat waves. The President of the Republic set a goal to renew 10% of French forests within the next 10 years. This renewal should be quantitative and qualitative, with more resistant species to combat deforestation. A forest that is more resistant to dying is less at risk from fire. This is the main theme of my visit. Some thought should be done to find the most suitable species for each area.

Where is Higher Education and Research Minister Sylvie Retailleau on your side?

This will be based in particular on work by INRAE ​​(Editor’s note: National Agronomic Research Institute), to better calibrate things and see, zone by zone, the most suitable species. The second step is to have plants and seeds. So he visited a kindergarten. But those who care for plants and seeds in the forest must have a vision of 7, 10 or 15 years. This is also what I have just started as a project: what are the emerging topics, their challenges, the visibility they need, the difficulties in accessing this or that diversity, and what are the search tools to accompany them. .

“There is no agriculture without water. According to the forecasts, we will have the same amount of water throughout the year, but we will distribute it differently. We need to capture this water in the winter when it rains the most, and restore it when we need it, that is, in the summer.”

Marc Fesneau (Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty)

In Morvan, as everywhere, voices are raised against monocultures, in this case conifers. Is species diversity something you have in mind?

Yes. But more in terms of landscape, sometimes it is necessary to distinguish between legitimate expectations and the reality of the areas. In fact, it will be necessary to plant the species that are most suitable for the area. Some will not be able to plant hardwoods. We will not go against nature and earth. It should be done where diversification is possible. Where it is difficult, you need to explain why and what to plant. You have to worry about whether it will grow or not. Research will guide us. Wherever we can create diversity, we will. Science and experience of foresters will be useful for us.

award The number of farms, the evolution of surfaces, retirement, organic… How has agriculture developed in Yonne in ten years?

Forests are not the only ones affected by climate change…

To me, it’s more climate change than global warming. You’ve got frost, hail, drought, heatwaves in Yonne between 2021 and 2022, and next week it’s going to be rainy with flooding. The agricultural world depends on heaven and earth. Therefore, it is more exposed to climate change. The workspace is focused on several elements. First, insurance reform, effective January 1, 2023, will better cover frost and hail risks so that farmers are not at the mercy of a major climate event.

The second pillar is the alignment of practices through various tools. There’s the evolution of what we plant, there’s hail or frost protection systems, even research for varieties more resistant to water stress, and even precision equipment to better irrigate or protect soils to bring in organic matter. The third element is access to water. There is no agriculture without water. Projections say we will have the same amount of water throughout the year, but distributed differently. It is necessary to catch this water when it rains the most in winter and restore it when necessary, that is, in summer.

Le Serein was particularly dry in the summer of 2022 – Photo Marion Boisjot

Like Sainte-Soline (Deux-Sèvres), are megabasins possible in Yonne?

Yonne may have some. But it depends on the potential project leaders, farmers or operators. I don’t know of many areas that will survive water stress. In this sense, it is not impossible for the question to arise for livestock, market garden or field crops. According to science, replacement reserves are needed to avoid pumping groundwater. Access to water is an important issue for farmers.

Maintaining farms is biodiversity conservation. If the wolf comes to prevent or hinder reproduction, I think the balance is disturbed. The medicine should not be worse than the disease.

The question of water also raises the question of its distribution with consumption and other industrial or tourism activities…

Climate change will cause months of drought and months of flooding, structures must be able to cope with drought, drinking water supply, low water table and river support, forest fire protection and flood control. I think that because this conflict exists, we need to sit around the table to manage it. After that, eating is still an activity, which I think is quite necessary. There are priorities. That is why we must have access to other resources, such as replacement resources, to prevent this conflict from escalating.

Farmers are also trying to diversify into energy production, especially agrovoltaism. How do you feel about it?

I think agriculture can demonstrate through these projects that it is capable of producing carbon-free energy while retaining carbon. But the main activity should be agriculture. Indeed, we implement projects from agricultural activities. That’s what’s important to me. We don’t need opportunistic projects, where we hide behind agricultural activities to implement 80, 100, 200-hectare projects, and put two sheep under it to think that we are engaged in agrovoltaism. We need to preserve as much agricultural land as possible to support our production functions.

Veterinarians are becoming increasingly rare in Yonne – Photo by Marion Boisjot

Projects of industrial poultry houses are multiplying. What do you think about it?

We are working on projects of average size in France. As long as they meet legal contingencies, regulatory constraints and environmental requirements, it seems to me that there is no reason to oppose it. About 50% of French poultry is imported. For example, in poultry farming, which is a more virtuous product than others in terms of carbon footprint, we cannot think that we will restore our food sovereignty, we will not accept the creation of chicken coops. It is unfair to blame those trying to restore food sovereignty. Personally, I can only promote the idea of ​​restoring food sovereignty. More French chickens require more chicken coops.

The monster came back a few years ago. What is your position?

More than 50 departments are concerned. This creates a number of problems. When the numbers increase in already wolf-infested areas, it becomes difficult for farms and wolves to co-exist. On colonization fronts, we are careful not to have a lasting impact on individuals and farms. Maintaining farms is biodiversity conservation. If the wolf comes to prevent or hinder reproduction, I think the balance is disturbed. The medicine should not be worse than the disease. In my opinion, several measures: can we strengthen defense systems with more fluid and simplified support mechanisms? It is also necessary to see in which zones protection from worms is almost impossible. Finally, we need to calculate the exact number of samples. We have the right to take 19 percent of the population. Although it is not easy to conduct sampling shots, we need to know the population better. It is all these tools that need to be developed, because it puts the breeders in terrible tension situations with a sense of misunderstanding from the outside. For victims of wolf predation, it is absolutely terrifying.

award Veterinary desertification in rural Yonne: “We must work very quickly to attract young people”

Veterinary desertion is happening in the department. How to attract new specialists?

Veterinary training has evolved to include more training. In 8 years we will have 35% more. The fifth, under private law, was opened in Rwanda. We’re also trying to develop things like tutoring experiences. The balance between city vets and field vets is also monitored. A large part of the profession is now moving to cities, further deepening veterinary desertification. We are working with professionals on a road map for how to ensure more trained professionals, more attractiveness for the profession in rural areas and a balance between urban and field vets. This is the same phenomenon as medical demography. The goal is to simplify and develop settlement in rural areas. This is not only a matter for farmers, but also for the sustainability of health and food quality. Veterinarians fight against animal diseases.

Dolphin Tujas

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