Since Friday, the telephone of Alexandre Pele, President of the General Confederation of Beet Growers (CGB) in Center Val de Loire, has been ringing. On that day, the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that derogation from the European ban on seeds treated with neonicotinoids was not possible, including in the exceptional circumstances invoked to protect beets. The decision that forced the state on Monday to reconsider a temporary neonicotinoid approval issued in 2021.
“We are disappointed with this government decision. We were promised a three-year grace period. We ended up there without efficient processing of our crops,” explains a farmer who cultivates about 25 hectares of beets on the border of the Loire and Aire-et-Loire.
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For him, as well as for his colleagues, the government’s decision does not work. “Some tell us they will reduce their acreage, others are considering not planting at all,” he continues. But a month and a half before the first sowing, it will be difficult to radically change the crop rotation.
“It’s already too late for me. But next year I don’t exclude that I will do otherwise. There is a lot of resentment,” comments Antoine Minard from Tremblay-les-Villages (Eure-et-Loire). “Besides, south of Paris we are really very jaundiced,” adds this operator, who saw his yield “halve” due to the disease in 2020.
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In the Pithiviers (Loiret) region, Olivier Duguet, who grows 60 hectares of beetroot, is counting on government support to encourage beet growers to continue producing and supplying sugar mills.
“We must not overreact. The decision is brutal, unexpected and very poorly received, but the planters need to be reassured,” he says with restraint. “We ask for financial compensation without a franchise in case of a problem, otherwise the entire industry will be destabilized. And this must be clearly stated in the coming days! »