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The CAFO-like “farm of a thousand cows”, France

The first hyper big farm is in project, in a single 1000 cow + 750 calf unit. Opposition from the Confédération Paysanne, Novissen, and other groups, was repressed and some activists brought to court. Stopped by 2021.


In the North of France, the first hyper big farm is in project. This is what is called a CAFO, a concentrated animal feeding operation. His founder has been influenced by the American and German way to do agriculture, which are more about the profits and less about the living animals compared to the French way. The project has been validated through time by the French authorities but the population and some organizations are strongly against its development and are keeping the firm to end the private works before it welcomes all the 1 750 cows by doing some protests, by trying to convince the authorities to be on their side and by convincing the employees of the farm to leave for something better and more respectful of their beliefs and the animals.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:The CAFO-like “farm of a thousand cows”, France
State or province:Somme, Picardie
Location of conflict:Buigny-Saint-Maclou / Drucat, near Abbeville
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific commodities:Biological resources
Live Animals
Manufactured Products
Milk production
Project Details and Actors
Project details

-starting with 500 cows out of 1,750.

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Project area:1,500
Level of Investment for the conflictive project10,000,000€
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:around 1,000 people living in the area of the firm
Start of the conflict:01/08/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Agrial from France - Is selling the milk produced from the cows of the farm.
Sénagral from France - Is producing yogurts from the milk of the cows.
SCL Lait-pis-carde from France - Is selling the milk produced from the cows of the farm.
Electricité de France (EDF) from France - Is buying the electricity created from the organic wastes of the cows.
Relevant government actors:The French government supported the project even if they do not dare to do it too loudly. The Minister of Agriculture (Stéphane Le Foll) said that if the project was following the law, then they could do and say nothing about it.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Europe Ecologie les Verts (EELV) :
-Ecologie sans Frontière
-Union des producteurs de laits de Picardie
-Syndicat de la Confédération Paysanne :
-Alain Finkielkraut :
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Boycotts of companies-products
Defence of rights of animals
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Noise pollution
Potential: Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Global warming
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsDamage to the economy of small farms
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
Activists were arrested, threatened with jail
Proposal and development of alternatives:The proposals are not to sell the milk in supermarkets, organize more marches, sue the farm.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:This is not a environmental justice success because the fine the farm had to pay will be reimbursed by the state, and because implicitly they are allowed to own more than 500 cows since 2015 in may. However, by 2021 the farm has been stopped. The controversy lasted for some years, but the project eventually failed.
Sources & Materials

The farm has produced around 8,5 millions liters of milk in 2016 and think that it will sell around 9,5 millions in 2017.
[click to view]

An overview of what it looks like.
[click to view]

A global and detailed resume of what happened, when and why.
[click to view]

This article is a global overview from 2014 about what was happening, who was on which side, why it was happening. It contains a lot of interviews with people from the scandal, like people from Novissen or people who are farmers and/or residents.
[click to view]

"3 years later, how are the "thousand cows"?"

The farm has now 880 cows and the production is going well. They had a tough 2016 because of a crisis in the milk economic area, but now they are back on their feet. They could not pollute so much if only some French companies were buying their milk, but because of the scandal no one in France buys it so they have to sell it abroad.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Agricultural and Rural Actors working together. What is the story of the 1000 cows in France? 21 September, 2014
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update20/09/2021
Conflict ID:3404
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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