French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's visit to SPACE 2013 was met with protesters from the pig and poultry industries and the boos and jeers of angry farmers as he quickly made his way through the breeding hall late on the third day of the show. Escorted by a large security detail - and with a troop of riot police standing by - his visit comes at a particularly unstable time for French animal agriculture.
The summer of 2013 has delivered a series of blows to the poultry, pork and eggs industries.
France's poultry sector took a sudden and significant hit after the European Commission repealed its poultry subsidies, which had allowed it to remain competitive against the world market, before its original January 2015 expiration date. As a result, Tilly-Sabco, Europe's No. 2 exporter of frozen poultry, announced a 40 percent reduction in production. This, topped with the financial problems of major producer Doux that began in 2012, has left many in Brittany, France, in fear of the future. Many SPACE attendees wore shirts warning of the potential loss of 50,000 jobs in the poultry industry if action isn't taken.
Response from Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault
Ayrault tackled the issue during his afternoon address by announcing that the government will roll out emergency measures to keep hatcheries and the poultry industry afloat and will file an appeal against the European Commission's decision.
Meanwhile, after being rocked by the swine crisis, France's primary slaughterhouse and processor Gad SAS announced the closure of one of its production facilities and elimination of nearly 1,000 workers in an attempt to balance its books after it entered into a receivership earlier in the year.
Ayrault noted the government stands with its people and hopes to save jobs; however, it cannot "substitute for the leaders of these companies."
SPACE and the aforementioned companies are located in Brittany, a region in northwestern France with a rich tradition of animal agriculture; it accounts for most of the country's animal production.
Ayrault ended his speech by stating, "The Breton agricultural model is not dead."
This edition of SPACE reports record attendance boasting more than 100,000 attendees from around the world. The event, located in Rennes, will be the largest European livestock show in 2013.