There are many, whose faces are closed when faced with questions. “We won’t talk about it, that’s all!” “Grumbles this tanned man, wearing a black beret at the” Gasconnes des Pyrénées “stand before looking away. FNSEA? The breeder knows well, he is even a long-time member of the organization, the first agricultural union in France (with 55.3% of voters in 2019).
But this Sunday, the day after the opening of the agricultural fair at Porte de Versailles, Paris (15th), seated with some colleagues in the middle of a crowd of visitors, he does not want to make “the bad buzz”, he whispers, visibly embarrassed, commenting on the case of the very high wages of the leaders of his union revealed by Mediapart.
According to a survey by the online news site, several executives earn between 9,600 and 15,900 euros gross monthly with bonuses, more generous salaries than a salary for a minister in the government of Édouard Philippe. In the alleys of the largest farm in France this weekend, this information gathered mixed feelings among the population of breeders. “They earn per month what I barely earn in two years”, suffocates Sébastien, who has traveled to Paris with his family over three days from his native Allier to present his sheep to visitors.
“They can no longer really represent us”
“Without my wife, who works as a conditioner on a neighboring farm, I could not live on my 350 euros a month. These FNSEA unionists are more politicians than farmers. By receiving such sums, they can no longer really represent us. They are disconnected, “he says, disillusioned while shearing his sheep. “Politics, FNSEA, we must put them all in the same bag!” Added his wife Beatrice who declared himself “anti-union”. “These people should volunteer. There, we would respect them. “
A few meters further, we meet André, a retired Charolais breeder, who has come to support his son who has taken over the family business. This former FNSEA member deplores the union’s grip on the agricultural world. “Unfortunately, he has a monopoly. Today if you want to settle down by taking over a farm or even grow, it is very practical to be there, you have freebies ”, cowardly, not fooled, the sixty-something who prefers to keep the ‘anonymity. “Suddenly, my son will probably join,” he adds while assuming “the utilitarian aspect” that this commitment would represent.
Many farmers, half tired, half annoyed, share this opinion. Only Emile Henry, thirty, member of the Young Farmers (JA), affiliated to the FNSEA defends his camp staunchly. “It’s intoxicating!” He claims. What journalists say is completely false. If farmers are paid better than ministers, at worst, so much the better for them. “
Like the president of the union Christiane Lambert who declared, following the revelations, “assume the salary policy” of these leaders, highlighting the need for “high level experts”. A complaint was filed against Mediapart for theft of documents. In the meantime, the affair only rekindles the divisions of the agricultural union world. “At the FNSEA, the culture of opacity is not new, attacks Nicolas Girod, spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne (minority union with 20.04% of the votes). They behave as if they were alone in the world and the farmers do not question their grip. “