How to ensure the sustainability of livestock sectors without a veterinarian? The departmental councilor Bernard Ksaz is at the initiative of a think tank on the subject which will meet at the end of May.
The elected representative of Gascony Auscitaine Bernard Ksaz expressed the wish, during the last departmental council, that a dialogue be set up around the future of rural veterinary medicine, an essential link for Gers livestock farming.
Bernard Ksaz, why did you raise this question?
Personally, I have pets, and relatives who work in cattle breeding. I was able to see the number of veterinarians decreasing in the Gers, and the basic subject that this constitutes. Over the past 5 years, 42 rural veterinarians have ceased their activity. They are only 18 today. They are essential breeding aids. This concerns all sectors: poultry, cattle, or equine.
Can we assess the impact of this erosion of the workforce?
For the moment, we are at the beginning. We know that such and such an area is more or less well covered by a veterinarian. A meeting is scheduled for May 30 with the sectors, the veterinarians, near Marciac to find out if what is identified corresponds to a reality. It will integrate breeders, veterinarians, and the assistance of the veterinary school of Toulouse. It is also a question of carrying out a territorial diagnosis, of mapping the Gers in terms of needs and shortages. We know that cattle breeding is concentrated in the south of the department, but the problem concerns all sectors, as we can see with the health crisis affecting poultry.
“Over the past 5 years, 42 rural veterinarians have ceased their activity. They are only 18 today”
Does the presence of veterinarians have an economic impact?
Yes, this can call into question the quality of the products, we see it with the poultry sector. Economics and health are linked. When you try to promote local production, you have to consider the whole sector, and the veterinarian is part of it. On the one hand there is the administrative health, which intervenes a posteriori or on controls. It is complementary to the rural veterinarian, who acts preventively. However, as livestock farming is not the strong point of the Gers, the department is not attractive enough compared to areas such as Aveyron or Cantal.
What avenues exist to reverse the trend?
We must discuss this with the Toulouse veterinary school. There is already an auspicious consensus among political forces on the issue, which goes beyond party divisions. The budget does not allow us to set up a public service of veterinarians. And the job has changed a lot: it has become more feminized, and there are few volunteers for night work, on weekends… We should probably think about a permanent service, a kind of on-call duty.
So the May meeting is only a starting point?
Yes, the challenge is the diagnosis. You have to start to clear the tracks. But we must move forward on concrete measures. We have fallen behind on a complicated file, which has a significant impact on the economy of the Gers.