return on the death of a cattle breeder shot dead by a gendarme

On Saturday May 20, 2017, following yet another health check which he had evaded, Jérôme Laronze, a 36-year-old cattle farmer, was shot dead by a gendarme after a nine-day run. In conflict with the State services, the organic operator of Trivy, near Mâcon, spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne de Saône-et-Loire, tried to alert, during his flight, to the malaise of his profession.

“How can the administration, the government, the public force treat a peasant in this way? asks Thierry Dromard, former journalist at the Journal de-Saône-et-Loire, in the unpublished documentary ”Sacrifice paysan” directed by Gabrielle Culand and broadcast this Wednesday, August 10 from 10:50 p.m. on Arte.

”I do not believe it”

This 55-minute film looks back on this extraordinary news item, revealing the malaise encountered on farms. In France, a farmer kills himself every two days, according to data from the MSA, the Mutualité sociale agricole. This is the socio-professional category most affected by suicide, ahead of executives, employees or workers.

Single and childless, Jérôme Laronze died at the wheel of his car, on a dirt road, hit by three bullets, in the side and in the back. The news of his death had the effect of a bomb in the middle. “It’s the leaden screed that falls a little more on all of us. I couldn’t believe it,” commented a dairy farmer in front of the camera. How did we get here ?

Subject to very strict, isolated rules, often launched in a race to expand their farms, some farmers found themselves crushed by debts, fatigue, stress or even depression.

”Never any support”

To decipher the workings of this infernal spiral which led to a tragic disappearance that has become symbolic, the director of ”Sacrifice paysan” immersed herself in the Burgundian countryside, filming controls, the seizure of a herd, and collecting the words of the different parties, including those who are caught in a productivist machine that pushes them to the limit. “The only intervention of the administration, today, is to solve the problem of the animals but never to provide any support to the breeder who is losing his footing”, estimates the writer and breeder Yannick Ogor , author of the book ”The impossible peasant: story of struggles” (Du Bout De La Ville Eds). “The death of Jérôme Laronze only amplified my anger, my rage against this system of industrialization of agriculture which is capable of going so far as to eliminate the life of a breeder”.

”Sacrifice paysan”, directed by Gabrielle Culand, broadcast this Wednesday August 10 from 10:50 p.m. on Arte, and available on YouTube until December 19, 2022 on arte.tv.

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