French farmers need 'billions' to compensate for catastrophic drought

·2-min read
AFP - THIERRY ZOCCOLAN

France's agricultural federations say they need up to 4 billion euros to compensate for "colossal" losses in production as the country endures a crippling drought.

A group of four livestock breeding federations appealed to the government for help on Thursday, estimating they need some "2 to 4 billion euros" to recover from the bout of extreme weather.

They said drought and soaring temperatures in France had caused meadows to dry up and had significantly impacted maize yields – a major food source for farm animals such as cattle and sheep.

The federations insist they have already been forced to draw on winter fodder supplies, raising concerns for the coming months.

"According to the first calculations, several billion euros are needed to compensate for the additional expenses related to animal feed and losses in production," the FNB, FNEC, FNO and FNPL said in a joint statement.

"Our country has already lost 24 percent of its cattle, sheep and goat breeders over the last decade", it added, underlining that there was a "state of absolute emergency" for ruminant breeders.

Reviewing compensation

The representatives of the farming sectors called for "state support" and asked France's Agriculture Minister, Marc Fesneau, to review compensation rules under the country's agricultural disaster scheme.

Co-financed by farmers and the French government, the scheme is deemed too slow and difficult to access.

The federations want the threshold for claiming compensation – now 13 percent loss of turnover – lowered, and the amount of compensation (28 percent) "substantially increased".

On Monday Fesneau announced measures to help relieve France's agricultural sector, including an advance on EU farming subsidies worth 1.5 billion euros.

However, livestock breeders consider the payments are "only a tiny beginning of a response" given "the scale of the disaster awaiting them".

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