Chambly. For the lawyers, “The trial of the Tuileries farm is that of intensive farming”

In the center, Laurence and Thibaut Collas and their lawyers. -Photo: Otto Beaumont-Senn / Oise Hebdo

When the video captured by the L214 association was put online, Thibaut Collas and his wife Laurence, suspected that it was going to get bigger, but they did not think it would go so far and that it would be fatal for the he family business SCEA la ferme des tuileries in Chambly. A farm that was passed on to them by the father of Thibault Collas. Today, the farm is out of business. Eight people are unemployed, 200,000 hens have been euthanized and debts run for several more years. It is however with an impressive calm that the couple appears at the hearing before the single judge at the court of Senlis, determined, this Thursday, March 24, to prove their good faith.

The starting point is therefore a video broadcast on social networks showing images that seem unbearable. Poultry piled up in poorly maintained cages, eggs infested with lice, and even worse dead poultry left in the cages for several days. These very quickly marked the general public.

Threatened with death after the broadcast of the images

– Photo: screenshot / L214

We cannot deny the presence of these images, but it was an incriminating broadcast that led the departmental directorate for the protection of populations to initiate a new inspection carried out by inspectors who themselves seem to have worked only incriminating“, begins by defending himself from the start of the session Thibaut, even mentioning in passing “cowboy methods“. He also recalls that at least twice, “the intruders entered the farm without going through the airlocks and that they were potentially the source of the salmonella contamination on the ground of the buildings“.

The beautiful family farm was turning into real hell for the couple. “The day after the broadcast of this video, we received countless threatening calls, some of which did not hesitate to wish us death.“, assure the defendants.

You did not file a complaint», asks the presiding judge? “We’re not twisted to record conversations“, answers the co-manager of the company. “For us, our operation was correct. The number of visits and inspections carried out each year is proof of this. We had a major inspection in 2016 which did not reveal any major issues. Since each year, we have had the veterinary visit, the visit of the inspectors of the departmental directorate for the protection of the population (DDPP) who had not noted any failure. A few days after the broadcast of the video, we received another visit from the DDPP inspectors and this time, our operation was at the heart of a controversy. We feel like we’ve been pilloried“.

The general public no longer wants these large farms where the animal takes second place well after that of profit.»

Hélène Thouy, lawyer at L214

It is that health control measures, there have been regularly. Sanitary control remains the essential safe-conduct to be able to continue to sell eggs. The Collas company was 4 million in annual turnover, 8 employees. For officials, the presence of dead animals is inherent in a farm of this size: “It is not uncommon to see 25 dead animals in a day. This is an estimated normal loss on a farm of 200,000 hens.“.
On the presence of dirt, the manager provides another explanation. : “Salmonella reproduces fairly easily in a humid environment. We prefer to test dry cleaning, brush and broom.” Same for cobwebs and lice. The managers consider that they are trying to treat with 100% organic means. “We tried the chemical treatment, but we quickly realized that the lice adapted to this treatment. We breeders are trying to find other alternative methods to curb the infestation of lice. This is one“explain the defendants.
For Me Helene Thouy, of the Bordeaux bar, one of the two lawyers of the L214 association – and incidentally candidate for the presidential election on behalf of the animalist party disqualified for lack of sufficient sponsorship – is not at all of the same opinion: “But where is animal welfare on a farm where a hen can grow on an area barely that of an A4 sheet? Today, it is perhaps on the mode of exploitation that it is necessary to lean. The general public no longer wants these large farms where the animal takes second place well after that of profit. It took the intervention and the complaint of the L214 association for an investigation to be really carried out. Its actions are intended to raise awareness that the animal is not just a source of financial product“.

we really feel like we’ve been pilloried»

Thibaut Collas, manager of the Ferme les Tuileries in Chambly

The prosecutor, he recalls that the instruction was carried out in relation to the investigations of the DDPP and not images of L214. In essence, a fine of 30,000 euros is demanded as well as a ban on breeding for 3 years. Me Combe, for the defense, sees in this file a systemic problem and not only limited to his clients: “We are dealing with good people who get up early and go to bed late. We asked them how they did on the farm when they went on vacation. The answer was simple, for 20 years they have not gone on vacation. Their exploitation is their whole life. Judging by the data, one gets the impression that everyone is passing the buck in this case. There were breaches, but the co-managers were convinced of their good faith. With this procedure, they could not benefit from the aid allocated in the event of the discovery of the outbreak of salmonella. This is a loss of aid of more than 1.5 million euros. Today the operation is closed. The material is sold. Worse still, the hens, some of which had just returned, were killed and as they were not carriers of salmonella, they traveled to Germany where they were cut up and sent back to France for consumption. If there is a problem in the system, it is up to the legislator to intervene. It is perhaps in this sense that the L214 association should act rather than focusing on breeders, who, I continue to say, have respected the laws in force on intensive poultry farming.“.
The lawyer simply claims the release for his clients. “We are aware that this type of breeding no longer meets the demand of the general public. We realized this some time ago, but we can’t let it be said that we let our business go down the drain. The year of its inspections, in 2020, we had invested 85,000 euros just for the maintenance and equipment of the company. That this type of breeding no longer corresponds is one thing, but today we really have the impression of being pilloried.“, repeats Thibaut Collas.
The couple will have to wait until April 28 at 1:15 p.m. to be fixed on their fate.

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