Article appeared on the 15/01/2002



Rabastens's market: the bovine field livens up

The cattle market of rabastens-de-bigorre is one of the most important of France. Since the comeback, it is a part of four to five markets computerized in France.

6 hours, yesterday morning. While the municipality of rabastens-de-bigorre soaks still in a profound sleep, the Park of the Valley - d'Adour, in the close suburb, livens up for traditional cattle market of Monday morning.

In the posts of entrance of the vast park of 10.000 m2, lorries transporting the cattle queue up. It is the passage obliged for the recording of animals and the regulation of the entrance. If some come from the department of High Pyrenees, the others rolled a good part at night. Rabastens's market is a part of the biggest markets in the cattle of France. " It is classified in 5/6-th places at the national level. We welcome traders of every Noon Pyrenees ", says Daniel Bonnemaison, assistant in charge of the functioning.

One after the other, trucks unload animals under the hall reserved for the small veals and for the broutards. It is, please , make it you of the traders salesmen and buyers. The deals beginning only from 7. 30, only the salesmen are authorized to circulate through paths to lead their animals in stalls.

Bit by bit, the mooing of animals invades places, at the same time as a rural smell spreadsin the atmosphere. Dressed in dark blouses, for the greater part, and provided with sticks, the salesmen steer, not without difficulty, their small crowds, disorientated and a little terrified, in the place which is intended for them.

For some, it is the moment of the grooming: brushing or shaving of croup of the animal. " It is necessary to pamper them to prepare them for the sale " says Roger, who brought, this morning, ten small veals.

The others prefer to go to discuss with the neighbour. In the menu of the discussions: animals, classes(courses), day company and general situation.

The euro is not a part of conversations. For the moment, one put aside it. " The deals are made in franc. The euro, one will see later ", adds Roger.

The second hall fills, bit by bit, with big cattle intended for the butcher's shop, the sale starting only from 10. 30. The "load" of animals is spread out. Age and corpulence oblige, the installation in stalls is more moderate. A last hall welcomes the small veals and répoupets of farmers intended breeders they too in the butcher's shop, the sale of which begins at 10 o'clock.


As for the traders buyers, they wait patiently for the starting up of the deals in the center of the building, fitted out in immense room bar - restaurant. If some people prefer the small black, the others adopted, of entrance, the snack decorated with red. It is good to take a snatch before getting to the heart of the subject.

In five minutes, the first negotiations are going to begin. Around thirty buyers agglutinates behind the metal, rather high folding screen to suspect nothing before the pip - departure. 7. 30, both doors open. This small world is then invited to penetrate into the first "square" of the small veals. Everything goes very fast . Furtive glance left right-hand side and each goes in big step to one or several selected salesmen.

The debates make sometimes fascinated. Quickly the agreement is made. It is a part of the rite of the negotiations.

" Today, I paid broutards 3.200 F instead of 3.000 F detail. Last year, the cost was among 2.700/2.800 F. That leaves, but it is still quiet ", says a buyer of the company Eurl Duprat, of Avezac-Prat, specialized among others in the sale to Spanish suppliers.

The ended deals, the traders salesmen go in the room of restoration for a break deserved and hardly appreciated snack.

As for animals, the journey is not ended. In transit a little while at the negotiators buyers, they will take, afterward, the road towards Italy, Spain, even a French region, to be manured.



Were registered, yesterday , to Rabastens's cattle market, against 1.200 on Monday , January 8, 2002.



It is what rereleases some total of the contributions in 2001 ( 66.454 ) compared with that of the 2000 ( 85.990 ). The main reason of this deficit concerns the period from March 5 till April 9, 2001, when the market was closed because of foot-and-mouth disease.


42 % of fair-haired women


Of Aquitaine, it is the dominant race in High Pyrenees, against 40 % of cows crossings, 10 % of limousines, 4 % of Charolais, and 1 % of Gascons.


Progressive recovery of the courses


Pascal Bounneau is a technician in Ofival (interprofessional national Office of meats, breeding and aviculture) which, today, has six well defined missions: maintain the balance of the market, promote the adaptation of the breedings, consolidate the action of companies, improve the quality of products, clarifythe deals and establish economic analyses. He is connected with ministries of Agriculture and of the fishing and in that of the Finances.

Every week, the mission in the heart of Rabastens's market is fundamental. Indeed, it is he who is in charge of establishing reliable quotations of the different products. These quotations serve as reference to the producers and to the economic actors of the market to facilitate their deals. They serve also for managing markets and for applying the measures foreseen by the common organizations of market of every sort.

" My work is to establish a course. For that purpose, I attend some deals but also and especially, I receive a school of salesmen and buyers. One confronts the offer and the demand. I do the synthesis of it and from it, one establishes a railing( ", explains the young technician. In fact, Ofival is a regulating body.

Yesterday, Pascal Bounneau made(did) his first morning for Rabastens since the passage in the euro. It made a little smile the technician: " They made(did) their deals in francs. It seems to me that they will spend in the new currency that at the last moment. Anyway, there is who trade still in old francs... ".

The first analyses on the market were realized with a certain reserve: " For the broutard intended for the export, I noticed a small lack of the goods. It is still difficult to have a just vision on the courses. To know if there is a return in the confidence, I believe that it will be necessary to see long-term. " At the end of the year on 2001, Ofival envisaged a likely progressive recovery of the courses of the big cattle in the next months. Again, the return of the confidence of the consumers is evoked. The recovery of the consumption of bovine meat in Europe could continue, but be opposed by the price increase of detail and the slowdown in the economy.



Since the last summer, an audit was launched with the bovine field. Of what does it consist?

It is an initiative launched by the General Council. Several partners, of whom the farmers' association, adhere to this project. This audit is translated under the shape of a questionnaire realized by a consultant cabinet of Bordeaux. This questionnaire was subjected to two hundred breeders of more than 10 cows, representative of the bovine field of High Pyrenees which counts 17.000 of it.

In what purpose?

The objective is to restructure the amont around producers' organizations and approval around an official quality method. This audit will allow to know how one can reach these reorganizations, if it is necessary to pass by a link of the local partners or to appeal outside.

Naturally, one can not expect for everything from an inquiry. But it( is interesting to know at which level are situated the breeders and how they perceive producers' organizations. Also, it is normal that organizations take into account aspiration of the base and know how they are received. The future of the breeding passes by the organization around a quality method. Everybody is perfectly conscious of it.

What conclusions can one pull(fire) of this audit?

At the moment, the definitive conclusions are not returned. Having said that, the first tendencies let suspect, and it seems to us encouraging, a confidence in the future. Two thirds of the specialized bovine breeders have projects at the level of buildings, of crowd and of method quality. A third partyof the breeders which frequents it considers that the market in a key role, notably at the level of the advices. They are strongly attached to Rabastens's market. 50 in 55 % of the interrogated persons adhere in producers' organization and 20 % are ready to join an OP to enter an official quality step. It is a positive sign. At the same time, they say themselves very attached to the free-market economy.