Merde! French farmer ordered to pay €8,000 over smelly cows

A French farmer has been ordered to pay €8,000 (£6,835) after neighbours complained about the smell from his herd of cows, bringing to an end a 10-year legal battle.

Nicolas Bardy, whose family have farmed cattle at Lacapelle-Viescamp in the Cantal, in south-central France, for six generations, was accused of stocking bales of hay too close to his retired neighbours’ home, causing “strong irritating odours”.

He also used the same storage building for his livestock, causing a stink from the build-up of manure, heard judges who found him guilty of causing “abnormal neighbourly disorder”.

In the battle between country and town in rural France, it is rare for those born and raised on the land to lose to incomers more used to the noise of traffic than native animals.

Maurice the noisy cockerel, a flock of ducks and geese, cicadas and frogs have all be subject to unsuccessful legal complaints to shut them up.

The case against Bardy went up to the court of cassation, the highest court of criminal and civil appeal in France. He said the decision to fine him €6,000 damages and make him pay €2,000 in legal costs, was “stupidity pushed to its limit”.

The judges ruling admitted it was “not unusual to be confronted by odours generated by agricultural activity”, but said the smell generated by the “maturing hay” stacked near the neighbouring property, and the “unauthorised” use of the building for livestock producing a pile of manure “virtually under their [the neighbours’] kitchen window” was indeed a nuisance.


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