Get your Roquefort now - before it's extinct

Latest news about our favourite Roquefort cheese - I'll be buying a large stock when I drive past next week!

Roquefort farmers warn the future of the cheese could now be in jeopardy as they will no longer be able to respect the appellation's strict rules on allowing their sheep to graze freely as the protected Wolf has spread out from the southeastern Alps and is now carrying out attacks in the Cevennes mountains of Lozère in the southern Auvergne, the home of Roquefort cheese.

The Appelation rules stipulate that it is "compulsory" for sheep to roam on the hilly pastures "every day" provided there is sufficient grass, "weather conditions permitting".

There have been 30 recent attacks, with 62 ruminants killed and 73 injured.

Only a few have been officially attributed to the wolf, but farmers say coexistence in the area is impossible.

Christian Robert, 48, has a flock of 550 Lacaune sheep, whose ewes' milk is used exclusively for Roquefort. According to a 1,000-year tradition, their milk is left to ripen in the caves of Mont Combalou beneath the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.

In the summer, Mr Robert's livestock grazes freely on the dry mountain plateau known as the Causse de Méjean. But in recent weeks, he has suffered five attacks, the latest little more than a week ago, with three sheep killed and four injured. There has been a spate of similar attacks on neighbouring flocks.

"It's become unbearable. I'm forced to mount the guard every two hours," he told The Daily Telegraph.

Under a "wolf code" established in 2004, the animals can be shot legally only by licensed "wolf lieutenants" or government marksmen and only if all other measures have been exhausted. To ward off the carnivores, shepherds are expected to invest in guard dogs, lighting and electric fences.

But shepherds in Lozère say such measures would put an impossible strain on their fragile economy and would be impracticable given their smaller, more dispersed flocks used to grazing unprotected on summer nights.

Mr Robert now has devices that set off projectors every 15 minutes and play music to scare off predators, but these have proved ineffective.

He fears for his ewes, as many are now pregnant. "When they are pursued like that they all abort without us even knowing. I have guns in all my vehicles and if I see a wolf I will kill it," he said.

Mr Robert has received the unlikely support of environmental campaigner José Bové, a former Roquefort sheep farmer. The Green Euro MP enraged fellow ecologists this month by publicly declaring: "We should shoot wolves ... the priority should be to protect small farmers in mountainous areas."

This sparked one wildlife protection group to file a legal complaint against Mr Bové for "inciting the destruction of an endangered species".

But Mr Bové stuck to his guns in an interview with the Telegraph.

"The cohabitation of man and wolf can be interesting in some areas, but I don't see compatibility being possible in Lozere and Aveyron given the type of farming," he said.

Eric Marboutin, head of the government's Wolf and Lynx Project, called for calm, pointing out that for the moment only one lone wolf had been positively identified in the area and that farmers received compensation for any sheep killed.

But he said if the wolf proved to pose a real threat to Roquefort sheep farmers' way of life, action could be taken.

Italian wolves, which crossed into the French Alps around 1993, are estimated to have multiplied to about 250 animals in 20 packs, ranging to the Auvergne in the West and the Vosges in the North.

The bulk of wolf attacks take place in the Alpes-Maritimes or the Var, where hunters have just been authorised to shoot an animal after a spate of killings.

(Taken from The Telegraph 30/8/2012)

Still produced around Melton Mowbray. The white stuff is quite mild compared to the punch of the blue.

Roche Baron an invented cheese from the producers of St Agur. Pasteurised cows milk so no prospect of improvement. Very popular in the USA. Doubt it's a patch on Stilton. Whatever happened to White Stilton I wonder?

ah glad you agree, Terry, but unfortunately the majority of sfn members will probably have only seen that parisienne in the TV advert - she winds us all up with her parisian accent, nobody in the aveyron talks like that!!!

STILTON and Roq oh no.

Salty...Rochbaron lovely creamy blue cheese.


Agree with both suggestions, Terry, and rather think it's the second as far as this article is concerned!

Have to laugh Terry...

So much has happened in my life...and, I guesse to most of us here on SF

but it was when I was about to have my big op many years ago....the surgeon (still

in touch with him) made a point of letting me know that God was concidering my case

"well we will open you up....but if it has spread we will close you up again" I remember

those bedside words which came through a fog of uncertanty.

It was some time later the next day I seemed to have drifted past those dark clouds

to somewher very cold...I was covered in silver wrappings and thought that I was dressed

in heavenly garments.I was in Hammersmith hospital recovery unit.

Can't abide blue cheese either, Andrew! Bit of a heresy hereabouts.

Of course it's roc-que-fort! How else would you pronounce it? :-D It's like those people who say vionde when they mean vee-and-euh.

He's probably never set foot outside the 2eme arrondissement, Andrew.Or maybe he's not even in France!

Barbara that reminds me of the story about the lady who got knocked down and went into a coma. She saw God looking down and said "Please God, not yet." He replied not to worry, shehad another 44 years or more. So when she came out of her coma she immediately spent a fortune on a face lift, breast enhancement, liposuction, the works, to celebrate her let-off. But as she walked out of the hospital after the last operation she was hit by a car and this time she was killed. When she met God again she complained bitterly that he had misled her. "Oh," said God. "Is that you, Doris? Sorry. didn't recognise you."

stuck the extra "c" in above to give it the roc-que-fort local pronounciation ;-)

please ignore for other purposes, it is indeed roquefort !

Dropped me 'c's did I, bit like 'h's in London!

Ha ha Brian, soooo true! I'll fight tooth and nail to defend our produits de terroir even if I can't stomach them personally :-O Having said that I'm fine with the very local estofinado and a good marcillac ;-)

as for satisfied farmers, yes they usually moan to everyone "on the outside" but BIL and FIL are both farmers here in the Aveyron (veau d'aveyron rather than rocquefort (three sylables please!)) as are pretty much the rest of the extended family and they don't moan too much "on the inside" ;-)

Now I must start by saying it might narrow down the field for me. I love blue cheese (Andrew holds bag completely over face, feels violently ill...) and for years have been trying blue cheeses everywhere possible. My field has repeatedly narrowed down to three - Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton. I know, I know, there will be objectors who wish to correct me, but please calm down. This is my competition with myself and I make the rules.

If there is a wolf on the prowl killing the sheep who produce the milk that is used to make Roquefort, then they are narrowing down the field. But wait a moment are there not wolves in Piedmont and Lombardia where a mix of cow and sheep milk is used for Gorgonzola?

Some years ago I got one of those presents you wonder what to do with, so I read it. 'Of Wolves and Men' by Barry Lopez is still on my shelf. A lone wolf going for anything as large as a sheep, hmmm. Fantasy land. A very hungry pack of wolves as a last resort well into a hard winter, OK you're on. European wolves are smaller than the ones Lopez wrote about which were essentially American grey wolves, although he tried to generalise. They mainly eat small mammals like mice, voles, rats, here in France the ringodon (coypu to the rest of the world), birds and a supplement of the droppings of ruminants such as deer, cattle and, indeed, sheep. So, they are more likely to eat sheep shit than sheep.

Well it was the Torygraph and they were writing about disgruntled farmers. Getting exact facts out of either is a bit like trying to get a quality Stilton out of my grasp.

Terry that was a great lin" the only 2 people you are not going to meet are God

and a satisfied farmer"

Had an appointment with God once but he said that I was too early and he sent

me packing.


You beat me to it Terry - geography lesson needed and the usual torygraph crap from people who have no real idea what they're writing about!

I agree Terry. Any sheep farmer is going to lose more stock to bad weather and stray dogs than wolves.

And these would be the same farmers who want an exemption from carrying the breath test kit!