France promises more than 1 billion euros in aid to farmers, winemakers affected by frost

On Saturday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex promised more than a billion euros in aid to farmers and wine producers who are losing the worst frost in decades.

Across France, farmers are counting on their losses after the freeze – which followed a period of unpleasantly hot weather – affecting hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops and vines in 10 of the country’s 13 regions.

“An exceptional situation, exceptional measures. I have just announced a significant contribution from the state of over one billion euros ($ 1.2 billion), because the situation justifies it,” Castex told a meeting between farmers’ representatives and local elected officials in the south of France. .

He said emergency aid would be given “in 10 or 15 days” to local officials to help the most affected farmers.

Arborists or tree growers who are entitled to compensation under the current state of the agricultural disaster system would be paid for 40% of their losses.

They are usually paid up to 35 percent according to European rules.

Other measures include tax breaks.

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In addition to vines, growers of kiwis, apricots, apples and other fruits have been hit hard along with farmers with other crops such as beets and rapeseed.

“The government has made an assessment of the seriousness of the situation,” Christine Lambert, president of the main farmers’ union FNSEA, told AFP, adding that it had reacted “quickly”.

Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said state funds would be used for “quick compensation.”

Bruno Darnaud, head of another agricultural lobby, said France could see its fruit harvest cut by half – a loss of about 1.5 billion euros ($ 1.7 billion).

And the FNSEA says that at least a third of the production in vineyards – equivalent to two billion euros – will be lost due to the frost.

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(AFP)