‘Absolute emergency’: ‘Billions’ needed to compensate drought losses in France

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France’s agricultural federations said on Thursday that billions of euros are needed to compensate for “colossal” production losses linked to the drought. 

In a joint press release, the group of livestock breeders appealed to the French government, estimating that they needed “2 to 4 billion euros” to recover from the period of extreme weather. 

Drought and multiple heat waves in France have caused meadows to dry up and significantly dented maize yields — the principal source of food for farm animals, such as cows, goats and sheep — they said. 

The federations added that they have already had to resort to feeding their animals with winter supplies, raising fears for the coming months. 

Extreme weather events have grown more frequent, intense and longer due to climate change, according to experts. Unless governments and people make substantial cuts to their emissions this trend will only get worse, they say. 

“According to the first calculations made, it will take several billion euros to compensate for the additional expenses related to animal feed and production losses,” said the FNB, FNEC, FNO and FNPL in their joint statement. 

“Our country has already lost 24% of its cattle, sheep and goat breeders for ten years”, it added, underlining that there was a “state of absolute emergency” for ruminant breeders. 

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

They have complained that the scheme, which is co-financed by farmers and the French government, is too slow and difficult to access. 

The federations want the threshold for getting compensation lowered and the amount “substantially increased” to deal with the fallout from the drought. 

On Monday, Marc Fesneau announced a raft of measures to help relieve France’s agricultural sector, which amount to 1.5 billion euros.

However, the livestock breeders claim these aid payments are “only a tiny beginning of a response to the scale of the disaster announced for breeders.”