Xavier Niel’s agricultural business school is in turmoil

Levis-Saint-Nom (Yvelines), report

Than a billionaire, who made his fortune in the business of sexual failure [1] and telephony, started teaching agriculture … I find it very dangerous ! » On the morning of March 29, broke the peaceful silence of the countryside, a coach called the Bus of rage » stopped in a meadow, at the exit of the village of Levis-Saint-Nom. On board and in the convoy preceded it, more than seventy unionist workers with red, green, white or blue flags. Gathered under the Public Agricultural Education collective (EAP), they showed up two hours in front of the barrier marking the entrance to the Boissière estate, home of the Hectar school. Purpose: denounce this agricultural school in the air of starting country ».

In the spring of 2021, Xavier Niel, boss of Free, and Audrey Bourolleau, a close friend of the President of the Republic, announced, without modesty, the imminent opening of largest agricultural campus in the world ». Accelerator of start-ups and innovation, pilot farm in regenerative agriculture, spaces for co -workers… This lexical field of starting country »combined with the presentation of this new school, has already created the wrath of teachers of public education in agriculture, as previously said Reporterre.

In front of the doors of the Hectar school, Thomas, a forest teacher at an agricultural high school in Corsica. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporter

A year later, the world of teaching continues to see a real danger here: The director of Hectar is none other than the co-founder of Blablacar [Francis Nappez]in other words an experienced farmerquips Dominique Blivet, a flag of the Sud Rural Territoires union in hand. I heard he was present BFM Business has its outlook on agriculture tomorrow. They are connected cows, drones and robots, etc. »

This agricultural technology has been presented by its proponents as a remedy to the tiring lives of farmers. In the eyes of Clémentine Mattéï, co-secretary general of Snetap-USFit mainly pushes to do more, destroys jobs and creates hope among the owners of the profitable robotics market: These were certainly new tools, like the tractors that preceded them, that could facilitate the work of farmers. The concern is that they are so expensive that they will continue to enslave farmers. They will dig a little into their debt, now the source of most suicides [de paysans]. »

At the end of the alley, the Hectar school seemed deserted. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporter

Planted next to the speakers, whose walls vibrate to the rhythm of the song Antisocial » of Trust, Aymeric is mixed. A teacher of economics at a horticultural high school near Lille, he considers it necessary to understand these technologies to adapt to today’s world: It’s timely, so let’s do it. But this premiere should not go to private companies. Its teaching is in the public service, but you have to see the equipment we have in the agricultural high school, it is eligible duringUSSR. It takes me a quarter of an hour to make a roll call using my computer and some of my students don’t even have one. »

Handling “at” arrangements between friends »

For now, the government is holding back from giving an opinion on this new school. In front of the senatorial mission Agricultural education: the necessity of agropolitical transition »the Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie, simply declared that he had none specific comments to be made on this private initiative ». And to complete his statements by making sure he doesn’t put up not to harm the agricultural education of the ministry, which is very strong ».

For Dominique Blivet, the collusion between Élysée and the founders of Hectar was solid: There is a 2 billion euro plan, proposed by Emmanuel Macron, to support high-tech agriculture. However, Audrey Bourolleau is the president’s adviser on agricultural issues. So we can legitimately assume that he proposed this plan and he made sure that his project was within the details.he said angrily. We are not fooled by their manipulations, by their arrangements between friends and we are on their way to offering a different world. »

Dominique Blivet, professor of economics at the agricultural college of Angers and trade unionist of the Sud Rural Territoires. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporter

Especially since Audrey Bourolleau, who seems to have distanced herself from politics, reappeared with the outgoing president in her second campaign. A mix of genres has been criticized by the collective, especially since it has repeatedly declined invitations to the Senate fact-finding mission, which wants to audition here.

A real diversion for commercial purposes, a theft of public furniture ! »

Seven months have passed since the inauguration of the first class of students the Hectar school. However, to believe the revelations, what will be the largest agricultural campus on the planet seems really deserted. At the end of the long dirt road, the outline of an impressive building cuts across the cloudy sky … but around the stretches of field as far as the eye can see. According to Clémentine Mattéï, most of the courses offered will be done remotely or, even anonymously, on local sites: Hectar pays public training centers to receive and train interns it recruits itself. This is leading to the abolition of public education. »

Not far away, the Hectar school. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporter

At the school site, a 12 to 16 week training course will be conducted workers in viticulture agriculture » is offered, for example, in a wine estate in the Sauternes region ». In fact, it is at the Domaine de la Tour Blanche, a public viticulture school located in the Gironde, that it has been provided since January. A Hectar project manager is content to provide tutoring for his trainees.

According to Clémentine Mattéï, the latter has priority over students who pass through the public highway and Hectar gives himself permission to apply all courses and educational material from public teachers. A real diversion for commercial purposes, a theft of public furniture ! » denounced the unionist.

Clémentine Mattéï, co-secretary general of Snetap-USF. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporter

At noon, the demonstrators boarded the Bus of rage » to return to the capital. Second stopover on the trip, a stop at the forecourt of La Défense, at the foot of the TotalÉnergies tower and Grande Arche. Under a marquee, Frédéric Chassagnette, co-secretary general Snetap-USFintroduced a citizen forum open to anyone curious: This morning, we could easily go to demonstrate in front of the private training centers of Carrefour or Lactalis. »

In fact, with the Pénicaud law of 2018, which is associated with the opening of vocational training to competition, all private companies are now getting public funds to invest in apprenticeship. Lots of money sucked from public establishments.

Representatives of Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Future Generations, Confédération paysanne and the FCPE participate in the roundtable. © Emmanuel Clévenot/Reporter

How to protect public agricultural education, and by extension, peasant agriculture, from this new business ? To answer this question, a round table was put together under the marquee representatives of the parents ’association (FCPE), the Confédération paysanne, the Future Generations association, but also environmental associations.

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