After months of toing and froing, I am finally registered as a smallholder in France. The process itself was not too complicated, but the lady that dealt with me seemed to be quite new to the job and made a couple of mistakes which delayed things.
The first stage in the process was a visit to the DDCSPP – Direction Départmentale de la Cohésion Sociale et e la Protection des Populations…..Sub-department, Service de la Santé et de la Protection Animales! I took myself off into Tarbes one day and eventually found the offices.I spoke to a lovely girl who seemed completely puzzled as to why I was there, I showed her the procedure document which had been printed off the web. First I was told they couldn’t do anything at that time as they were in the process of moving offices, I asked where they were moving to so I could find them when I returned, they were moving up one flight of stairs! Eventually I got her to photocopy my paperwork and open my dossier, someone would contact me the next week…..they never did.
According to the procedure document I had, the next stage was to go to the Establissement de l’ Elevage (EdE). Having heard nothing from the DDCSPP, I decided to take matters into my own hands and go directly to this office to see if I could get any further. The lady at the EdE explained that there had been many changes to the procedures and that I didn’t need to go to the DDCSPP, she seemed very efficient, asked me what animals I had and then filled in a load of forms for me and asked me for a cheque for €15, a very reasonable sum I thought. I asked how long the procedure would take and she replied a couple of weeks and that I should receive my documents in the post, she then gave me a whole forest worth of paperwork to read. I was so pleased, it all seemed so simple and straightforward, not at all like it usually is in France. The only identification they asked for was proof of address.
I should point out at this stage that I was registering as a non-commercial farmer, the meat from the animals I rear is for our consumption and not to be sold. I registered as a breeder of pigs, sheep and goats. I have a CHEPTAL number, which is used for the identification of my animals, but I don’t have a SIRET number because I am not a commercial farmer.
I understand that to register as a commercial farmer you need to go to the Chamber of Agriculture (which the EdE is a department of), you will need a qualification or to prove that you have a number of years experience (I think it is five) working in a farming capacity, you can then register as a ‘Cotisant Solidaire‘. You can read more about the Cotisant Solidare here (sorry in French). Another way to register if you don’t have the qualifications or experience is to find someone that has a diploma in agriculture and set up the French equivalent of a company with them, they can either work in the business or be a sleeping partner/director. I understand that there are further restrictions relating to registering as a commercial farmer, these are related to the percentage of your income that is derived from farming activities, but I don’t know the details.
A week after I visited the EdE I received a phone call from the lady that dealt with me, she apologised for having made a mistake, I should have paid €30 not €15. I still have no idea what these payments are for but it seems to relate to the number of species of animals kept; goats and sheep are one category, pigs are completely separate. I drove the 40 kilometer round trip back to the office to pay the difference. Whilst there I asked for my CHEPTEL number and also whether I needed to order ear tags or they ordered them. The lady was happy to fill out my order for the tags and I asked for the tattoo equipment for the pigs as I was under the impression that the pigs needed both an ear tag and tattoo to go to the abattoir. This turned out to be my mistake, they can have either one or the other. The tattoo equipment is very expensive, but I am glad we ordered this as I think it will be much easier to tattoo the pigs than to do the ear tags. I paid the huge amount of €131.90 for the tags and tattoo equipment!
I left the office expecting to receive a parcel and documents within a couple of weeks. A week later I got another call, another mistake, they had charged me the wrong amount, could I bring in a revised cheque. I thought they said I had paid thirty cents too little. I was very annoyed at the thought of having to drive another 40 kilometer round trip to pay thirty cents. As it turned out Steve was going to Tarbes a couple of days later so he went to the EdE office. It turned out I had paid thirty cents too much and they delayed the order because of this, grrhhhh.
Delivery At Last
Finally a couple of weeks ago I received a parcel, inside was the tattooing equipment but no tags. I still haven’t received any documentation from EdE. I telephoned EdE and they explained that the tattooing and tagging equipment come from different places, the tags take about three weeks. But as I only need to tattoo the pigs I can go ahead and organise for them to go to the abattoir. Strangely enough the identification number for the pigs bares no resembles to the CHEPTEL number I have been given, I asked the lady about this and she said, no they are completely separate registrations. I also have two different types of movement forms; one for pigs and one for sheep and goats! I will scan all the documents I have been given and post them on my blog at some point.
A couple of days after receiving the tattoo equipment I went to the abattoir and spoke to a lovely lady. I can take the pigs on a Monday or Wednesday morning between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.!