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In Cantal, a difficult summer for producers of Salers and Saint-Nectaire

The drought and the summer heat wave shook a monument of cheese heritage: on August 8, almost all of the seventy-eight producers of salers decided to stop production of this cheese with a designation of origin. protected (AOP) with raw milk, which is made exclusively on the farm during the summer season, from April 15 to November 15. “At the end of July, beginning of August, the pastures turned yellow”says Laurent Lours, the president of the AOP.

More liquorice, gentians, arnicas or anemones, which make the richness of the highlands of Cantal, and which give the unique taste of salers. But, above all, the impossibility of respecting the specifications of the appellation, which requires that the cows be outdoors and fed on grass. “We had to start the stocks of hay planned for the winter, which forced us to switch to the Cantal appellation. Between the two, the shortfall is around 250 euros to 300 euros per tonne. »

“We had to start stockpiling hay planned for the winter, which forced us to switch to the Cantal appellation” Laurent Lours, president of the AOP salers

In the Auvergne mountains, promoting milk through AOP cheeses – Cantal, Salers, Saint-Nectaire, Fourme d’Ambert and Bleu d’Auvergne – is essential to the viability of farms. “It can be estimated that, compared to standard milk, PDO milk, which is used to make cheese, brings producers 20 to 30 euros more for 1,000 liters”explains Alain Plan, the director of the Regional Interprofessional Center for the Dairy Economy (Criel) Alpes-Massif Central. “The differential has been increasing for several years, and a majority of breeders manage to live decently. »

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The situation remains fragile. “Faced with the drought, increasing the value of milk is not enough. » Caught between production cuts and cost increases related to the purchase of food, “breeders will find themselves in difficulty”. With the prospect, for some, of having to interrupt their activity.

“Lack of grass”

For producers of Saint-Nectaire, whose appellation area straddles the departments of Puy-de-Dôme and Cantal, the summer was also difficult. “The season was disrupted by the weather conditionsexplains Emilie Rousset, the director of the Saint-Nectaire AOP cheese interprofessional organization. There was less grass, which resulted in lower milk production, and therefore less cheese production. »

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