“Not a blade of grass in this murky landscape… They wade through the icy mud.” They are the 36 cows of the P. brothers farm located in Wambrechies, according to the description given by Marion Pécher.
An activist for the protection of animals and a volunteer at the École du Chat association in Marcq-en-Barœul, she is also the instigator of a petition to denounce the living conditions of these animals in what she calls the “farm of horror”.
Nearly 100,000 signatures in less than a month
Signed by nearly 100,000 Internet users in less than a month, the said petition is directly addressed to the prefect of the North Michel Lalande and to the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of the Populations (DDPP), the only service able to take the decision to seize the animals if facts of abuse are characterized.
“BUT WHAT IS THE DDPP – NORD WAITING FOR (Departmental Directorate for the Protection of the Population, which manages breeding and animal welfare) TO ACT AND ENTRUST THE HERD TO THE BRIGITTE BARDOT FOUNDATION WHICH PROPOSES TO WELCOME ALL ANIMALS INTO ITS SANCTUARIES, AT ITS EXPENSES? ”
According to Marion Pécher, the 36 cows on this farm are “in great pain.” She explains herself. “There is no shelter in the pasture which has become a gigantic field of mud, of urine (…). The animals have never returned (…). They only have a little straw to feed on and unsold quoins of bread donated by a neighbor and our association. “
Photos on the “Farm of Horror” petition page.
© screenshot mesopinions.com
After having collected many elements – testimonies, photos etc. – Marion Pécher decides to send a complete file to the State services at the beginning of December, in order to act quickly. “I had no response, so I decided to start this petition.”
Visit of veterinarians
3 weeks and 100,000 signatures supporting the petition later, the prefect of the North “appointed the veterinarians of the DDPP as well as an independent expert veterinarian to carry out the examination of all the cattle present on the farm” and determine if the situation “justified the initiation of an administrative withdrawal procedure.”
This Friday, January 8, the veterinarians’ report, made public and made up of several photographs, concludes that “the animals are neither mistreated nor in imminent danger.” This is confirmed by Magali Pecquery, director of the DDPP and veterinarian mandated on the spot. “We found animals in good general condition, which had enough to eat and drink and which, for those who entered the building, had enough straw.”
“Under these conditions, the implementation of an administrative withdrawal procedure, in application of Article L. 214-23 of the Rural and Maritime Fisheries Code, would not be justified and contrary to the law.”
A report and arguments that do not convince the instigator of the petition. “99% of the abusers, when we tell them that we are going to inspect them, because they knew about it 15 days before, inevitably decide to stage things.” She takes the example of the photos attached to the veterinarian’s report showing new bales of hay, justifying the amount of food sufficient for the cows. “It’s lucky for the animals that have tasted the forage for the first time” she quips bitterly.
Response from Magali Pecquery, Director of the DDPP: “I didn’t see the same thing as the person who started this petition. I’m a vet, she’s not.”
A file dating from the 2000s
This is not the first time that the P. brothers’ farm in Wambrechies has crystallized the debates. “This is a case that dates back 20 years, punctuated by judgments, explains Marion Pécher. 1999, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017, 2019… and since then nothing has changed. “
In 2018, a video was shot on the operation with a hidden camera, and broadcast on Youtube. We see piles of rubbish littering the ground outside but also inside one of the buildings, where a calf is in the middle of plastic bottles and other waste. In 2019, a trial then took place at the Lille court, resulting in six convictions for poor breeding conditions against the two brothers.
What the DDPP confirms. “It is a breeding which has been under our control for several years. There were a lot of anomalies that were noted, says Magali Pecquery. Lately, we have worked with the breeder to ensure that this breeding is today in the state in which we could see it yesterday (during the visit mandated by the prefecture, Editor’s note), so that ‘it is as good as possible with animal protection regulations. “
Demonstration under the prefect’s windows
Despite the report of veterinarians dispatched to the site indicating that an act of mistreatment could not be observed, animal protection associations decided to mobilize, Saturday January 9, directly under the windows of the prefect. “We will beg the prefect to kindly weigh the consequences of what will be the final decision not to intervene, as well as the message sent to public opinion” says Marion Pécher. “We do not understand, while we are offering a turnkey solution to save these animals which will cost absolutely nothing (seizure of the 36 cows by the Brigitte Bardot foundation at their expense, note), why this blockage.”
The sign of a demonstrator presents Saturday, January 9 in front of the Prefecture, in Lille.
© France 3 Hauts-de-France
At the same time, the L214 associations and the Marcq-en-Barœul cat school jointly filed a complaint for “offense of abandoning animals”, hoping nevertheless that the prefect does not wait and act as quickly as possible. “He can say enough is enough, we act, we respect public opinion, all whistleblowers on this issue, recalls the instigator of the petition. I am not the first to fight and I fear, unfortunately, that I will not be the last. “
Misunderstanding of breeders
This affair erupted in the hands of Sébastien Brogniart, mayor of Wambrechies elected last June, when he discovered the extent of the petition. “I got interested in the case because I don’t want it to spoil the image of the city” tells the city councilor. “I met all the interlocutors: instigators of the petition, breeders and prefectural services. But I would remind you that the mayor has no competence in the matter.”
“The case is not completely closed because we still have an identification problem (of certain cows) on which we are working with the breeders. We will continue to go and check regularly to avoid any drift if there is to have some.”
Met by a team from France 3 Nord-Pas-de-Calais on Saturday January 9, 2021, the breeders of this farm opened their doors to us without any fear and explained that they did not understand the situation. This farm, which previously belonged to their parents, is indeed dilapidated. For lack of resources, it was impossible for the two brothers to replace the fences of the pasture. But the animals are fed properly, they assure us, and are in no way sold.
The fences of the pasture are made of pallets, for lack of means.
© France 3 Hauts-de-France
A neighbor of the farm who regularly comes to lend a hand to the breeders says she is stunned by the situation. “If all the people who signed this petition had donated one euro, all the fences could have been changed” she wonders, while several local residents announce that they want to help the owners of the 36 cows in order to give a facelift to the family farm.