Veterinarians: when cows follow domestic animals

Much has been said in recent weeks about the lack of general practitioners in many rural departments, but also in many neighborhoods of the big cities of our country. On the other hand, the distribution of veterinarians in the national territory is not much mentioned. In the first half of the 20th century, this profession was mainly practiced in rural areas, often with one professional, or even two in each canton. The profession is essentially male and these men intervene to vaccinate cows against certain diseases, to treat lameness, to train difficult calvings. But there are few vets in rural areas. In a press release published on November 10, Marc Fesneau, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, indicated that “to meet the demand for veterinarians in the labor market, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty continues the multi -year plan to strengthen four. national veterinary schools started in 2022 (…) This increase in the number of trained veterinarians is part of the achievements of the roadmap for keeping veterinarians in rural areas , initiated by the Ministry together with the veterinary profession and the agricultural profession and communities” , one reads this text. One thinks that the Minister published this text to respond to some reminders recently made by the Chambers of Agriculture. As part of the preparation for the “International exhibition of solutions and technologies for efficient and sustainable agriculture” held by you la November 6 to 10 in Paris-Nord Villepinte, the Chambers of Agriculture indicated that “the lack of veterinarians in rural areas. punishing the breeders and increasing the pressure on the vets who are still there, thereby accelerating the disillusionment of young people to live in rural areas. This situation also poses a risk to animal welfare and health. Local elected officials and parliamentarians from animal departments such as Allier, Lozère and many others also make this observation.

77% of veterinarians treat pets

Published in October 2018, a document from the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) indicated that in 2016, 77% of veterinarians mainly treated companion animals and 22% mainly farm animals, 1 % exercising their activity on farms specializing in saddle horses. and other equids. In the countryside, veterinarians treat cattle three-quarters of the time, the rest is devoted to horses, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens. This INSEE study also published the evolution of the turnover of the veterinary profession between the year 2000 and 2016. From the index of 100 in the year 2000, this number increased to 130 for the care of the closed. But it went from 100 to 210 for pet care during the same period. France has 19,530 veterinarians, including more than 5,000 employees in 2021. But today, they mainly treat 10 million cats and more than 8 million dogs. The trend is irreversible, compared to the statements made by Cathy Alegria, director of studies at the company Xerfi, on October 26th. Here are some excerpts: “The size of the veterinary care market is estimated by INSEE at more than 4 billion euros in 2020, while France has almost 3,800 veterinary practices and clinics at the end of 2021, according to National Order of Veterinarians. True, the growing medical consideration of companion animals, the extension of networks and the increasing penetration of insurance contracts stimulate the demand. The average household budget for veterinary care has increased from 85.60 euros in 2012 to more than 127€ in 2022. But after the boom associated with the adoption of dogs and cats during the pandemic and due to the structural erosion of animals weighing on the activity of establishments positioned in animals, the turnover of veterinary services will return to a growth rate more in line with its previous levels”.

When profitability trumps utility

The future of the profession therefore depends on the need for care for tomcats and doggies as well as other pets, preferably in the middle of cities. As a result, the communicator from Xerfi said that “the traditional practice model, with a single practitioner sometimes assisted by a specialist assistant, tends to fall out of favor with larger practices and clinics that can take advantage of savings scale and pool equipment (… ) To develop at the level of a territory, networks of veterinary practices and clinics must attract, train and maintain practitioners, who are used to working independently and independently. Along with care activities and drug prescriptions, many veterinary structures are involved in the distribution of articles for pets. This diversification is a powerful driver of growth. In practice , the weight of sales of medicines, food and accessories for animals in the revenues of veterinary companies increased from 35.3% to 36% between 2015 and 2020 for the companies in the Xerfi panel”, indicated Cathy Alegria. . For the veterinary profession, being up to 75% of its working time with 20 million domestic animals is more pleasant and more profitable than treating 3.7 million dairy cows against mastitis that produces inedible milk . Also more profitable than preventing an epidemic of bird flu, which resulted in the slaughter of 16 million chickens in France in one year. But this is hardly consistent with the interest of the country, or with the food sovereignty of its inhabitants.

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