The decision seemed inevitable: the 2021 edition of the Agricultural centre, which was to be held in Paris from February 27 to March 7, was canceled on Tuesday due to the Covid-19 epidemic. “We could not wait any longer, explains to JDD Valérie Le Roy, director of the Show. It is a big machine and many exhibitors and partners incur costs several months in advance. We therefore had to decide before too much money ran out. is in play. ” In fact, some decisions had already been taken, starting with the most symbolic choice: that of the cow, the face of the Show, the mascot which thrones each year on the posters of “the largest farm in France”.
“The selection process always begins at the previous Show, explains Valérie Le Roy. Applications are thus submitted, then studied in the spring.” Thus, the organizers of the Show had already chosen the mascot of the 2021 Show. “I will contact its representatives this afternoon to decide on the next events”, continues the director of the Show.
The mascot of 2021 kept for 2022?
Indeed, if the Show as such is canceled, its organizers reserve the right to organize events “according to the reality of sanitary conditions next February”. The idea of a presentation of products and wines, with the maintenance of an open competition, is a hypothesis. The presence of animals is however excluded as it requires a heavy organization, today unthinkable to maintain. “We hope that there will still be a highlighting of our know-how, that there will not be ‘nothing at all'”, estimates Jean-Marie Goujat, the breeder of Ideal, the Charolais muse of 2020.
The interest of the Show is also to be able to feel the asses of the cows. A muse must be able to be seen, touched
Concerning the next muse precisely, two tracks are evoked: to present to the public from 2021 the chosen cow, outside any event therefore, or to keep it for the next edition. In case of postponement, another animal of the same breed could possibly be selected. “The interest of the Show is also to be able to feel the asses of the cows, notes Valérie Le Roy. A muse must be able to be seen, touched.”
Behind the muse, the economy of a sector
The subject might seem anecdotal. He is not. The selection of the mascot has important repercussions each year for the breeders of the chosen breed. Cédric Briand, breeder of “Pie noire Bretonnes” cows, testifies to this. One of his cattle, Fine, was the face of the 2017 Show. “The breeders of this breed defend a different breeding model, in a short circuit and in an eco-responsible approach, he explains. de Fine allowed us to break down the very split image of this type of farming and to demonstrate that another type of agriculture is possible. “
The effect was immediate. Not at the level of operation of Cédric Briand, who “was already struggling to meet demand before the 2017 Show”. But in terms of the “Breton Black Pie” label: “Our breed has welcomed around ten new operators since 2017, professionals who have discovered our model thanks to the reports on Fine.”
It is very rewarding to be able to explain our profession, and there is a real beneficial effect for our region.
Thomas Dijols, owner of Haute, the Aubrac breed cow chosen as mascot in 2018, confirms this “Salon effect”: “At the scale of our label, there has been an obvious jump and many professionals have been interested in our breed for two years.” “The Show is still the easiest way to communicate with the public, he adds. Not only is it very rewarding to be able to explain our profession, and there is a real beneficial effect for our region and local economy. “
“It was a great experience, very rich, and a real pleasure to talk about our profession with visitors”, continues Jean-Marie Goujat, who had given himself the mission of calling on the President and the Minister of Agriculture of the time, Didier Guillaume, on the income of breeders. “With Charolais France, we had no regrets about things that we would not have said. Have we been heard? I cannot affirm it. But if we want to be able to continue the extensive quality breeding, you have to be able to make a living from it, ”he argues.
The cancellation of the Show included but regretted by the breeders
Thomas Dijols, owner of Haute, regrets the cancellation of the 2021 edition, even if he understands it. “We are suffering the full brunt of the economic crisis because the Italian market, on which we sell grazing [les jeunes bovins, NDLR], is frozen. “Cédric Briand, whose economic model is essentially based on direct sales, does not suffer from the crisis, but regrets” the loss of visibility “induced by the cancellation of the Show.” It is certain that this cancellation inspires us with sadness. But it is good that the announcement was made early in advance, because the Show requires a lot of investment, in time, work and money “, reacts Jean-Marie Goujat.
“We are aware of the expectations of breeders for whom the Show is a very important meeting in the year, affirms Valérie Le Roy. And the muse undoubtedly has a role to play as a spearhead for the communication of the sector. ” Ideal, that of the 2020 edition, “continues quietly his career” in the Rhône exploitation. And her calf, Rois des Prés, who had accompanied her to Paris in February, has grown considerably: today it weighs over 600 kilos.