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Hail caused 6 million euro damages in Valencia

According to La Unió de Llauradors' initial assessment, the Valencian countryside had direct losses for more than six million euro due to this weekend's hailstorms. Most of the damage was confined to the region of Alto Vinalopó, in Alicante, especially in three locations (Beneixama, La Cañada and Camp de Mirra).

The damage seems minimal despite the large size of the hail but producers will have to wait for the evolution of the crops to see if it is higher. Ironically, the big size of the hail helped to minimize damages, as it fell more clearly. In addition to the direct losses in the field, there were also losses in agricultural infrastructure (roads, margins, drip irrigation systems, etc.) that should be valued by the affected municipalities in the coming days.

The storm caused the most damage in the area located in Alt Vinalopó, l'Alcoià and Comtat, especially in the town of Beneixama and the neighboring municipalities of Canyada, Camp de Mirra, Biar, Banyeres, Villena o Muro d'Alcoi; fundamentally affecting olive, almond, vines, and vegetable crops.

The City Council of Beneixama is considering declaring the municipality a disaster area, as direct losses in the fields in just three municipalities of Alto Vinalopó (Beneixama, Camp de Mirra and Canyada) amount to more than 3 million euro. The storm affected 60% of the olive harvest in about 3,400 hectares, 80% of the almond crop in some 200 acres, a million kilos of wine grape (i.e. 100% of the crop), and about 40 hectares of vegetables. The infrastructure damage is incalculable.

Meanwhile, in the province of Castellon, the storm mainly affected the regions of Alta Plana and Alcalatén, and to a lesser extent Plana Baixa or Maestrat; especially the wine grape crops between Vall d'Alba and Useres and the citrus and vegetable crops in the towns of Alcossebre, Torreblanca and Cabanes. According to local sources, 20 to 50% of the crops were affected by the storm. The hail was large though mixed with water. In that province, direct losses in the field would exceed one million euro but the main damage, which still needs to be evaluated, was sustained by agricultural infrastructure due to the intensity of the rainfall in a short period of time and to the wind.

In Valencia the regions that were most affected by hail were Ribera Alta, Ribera Baixa, Safor, Vall d'Albaida, la Costera, Utiel-Requena, and Serranos with direct losses of about two million euro. The storm affected a large area of Ribera Alta but the damage was highly variable and lower than what would be expected from the size of the hailstones. "The stones that fell were very large but isolated and clear, so they didn't impact all the fruits. It's worse when the hail is smaller, but the destruction was brutal wherever these big stones impacted," said the farmers affected in the region of Ribera. The storm mainly affected citrus, fruit and vegetable crops. Persimmon crops, which are rather sensitive, were also affected but producers will have to wait to how they evolve to determine their losses.
The most affected area in the region of la Costera is comprised by the towns of Lloc Nou de Fenollet, Xativa, Barxeta and Llosa de Ranes. Losses in citrus, vegetables and persimmon crops range from 50 to 70% in some plots. In Vall d'Albaida the storm mainly affected Bocairent. In los Serranos, the most affected areas were Losa del Obispo and Utiel-Requena, especially in the municipalities of Venta del Moro and Caudete.

La Unió has asked the central government and the Generalitat for a series of compensatory measures to mitigate the losses. They requested a tax reduction for the farmers affected, a remission or return of the Rustic Nature property tax for the current year and of the payment of social security contributions for farmers enrolled in the Special Agricultural Scheme; as well as subsidized loans.
Regarding agricultural insurance, this organization requested speeding up the appraisals and making the current insurance for olive corps more attractive because their level of recruitment in production areas is very low. As a matter of fact, most of the olive producers in the region of Alto Vinalopó, the most affected area, had not purchased the policy. Thus, la Unió has asked for exceptional aid for these producers, as the insurance does not meet their needs.

They have also requested coverage, on presentation of the corresponding invoice, of the fungicides and their application to avoid the appearance of fungi and diseases on farms.

La Unió also demanded the urgent reparation of the infrastructure damaged by the storms so that agricultural professionals can continue their normal activities in the field.

Nevertheless, the overall assessment of the recent rains is very positive and beneficial to the field after the ongoing drought. The rains will allow producers to save water in irrigation, recharge aquifers, clean trees of possible pests and regenerate pastures. La Unió stressed the need for farmers to have a line of agricultural insurance as it is the best instrument available to them to receive compensation for loss of income caused by unforeseen climate disasters.

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