French courts have ordered this unprecedented measure to determine the antenna’s impact. The animals have been feeding less, suffering from diseases and producing less milk since its installation, according to their owners.
“I can see from my tractor that they are all skin and bones. It’s enough to make you cry.” On the other side of the small road that winds along his property, a short distance from the town of Mazeyrat-d’Allier, in the Haute-Loire department, Frédéric Salgues can spot what he considers to be the cause of his cows’ problems, less than 300 meters away: a cell phone tower commissioned by Orange on June 28, 2021.
Torn between anger and dejection, the breeder, who runs the communal agricultural co-operative Gaec de Coupet with his wife Géraldine and his brother Yannick, was nevertheless starting to regain hope. On May 23, the administrative court of Clermont-Ferrand ordered the 4G antenna’s cessation of operation for a period of two months.
This measure, unprecedented in France, should become effective within three months. The objective is to carry out an expert assessment in order to “establish a potential causal link between the behavior of the cattle and this antenna.” The administrative court highlights “a significant drop in the quality and quantity of milk produced, a serious disruption in the behavior of the herd and its voluntary denutrition and abnormally high deaths. Standing in front of his herd of Prim’Holsteins, the black and white cows that are champions of milk productivity, Mr. Salgues was distressed. They are all thin,” he said . “They don’t get up at night to eat, and they hardly drink at all. And this one, which stays completely still with her jaw stuck on the side and her head down, you can see this is not normal behavior!” Then he added, “These cows, they are sad.”
His brother Yannick showed us the calendar from the co-operative that collects the milk every two days. The quantities are carefully noted. In June 2021, the average was 4,200 liters. On July 3, less than a week after the antenna went into operation, the Salgues registered 3,792 liters. In the days that followed, the drop was staggering: down to 2,700 liters by the end of the month.
Since then, production has not recovered. On top of that, there are other difficulties. “We have had 40 dead cattle in a timespan of 11 months, as opposed to ten or so in normal times.” Reproduction is becoming uncertain. “The Haute-Loire Health Defense Group, an association that monitors animal health in conjunction with the public authorities, is closely monitoring the Gaec de Coupet. There are very disturbing phenomena in terms of animal behavior with animals that do not eat or drink,” says its director, Julien Bachellerie. We’ve looked at all the usual hypotheses and haven’t found any that stand out. The quality of the food or water, the breeding methods, the presence of diseases… nothing could be pointed out. And the autopsies did not reveal anything.
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