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Heat and drought: producers on high alert

Heat episodes are succeeding one another in France and with them comes drought, causing significant repercussions for farmers. Climatic hazards are leading to a drop in yields for many crops and quality is also being affected. If water use restrictions have already been put in place for individuals, new measures could be aimed at producers this time.

Some market gardeners are already experiencing damage and losses of up to 30%. Sunburned fruits and fruits that just don't grow. But the production of winter vegetables is also particularly worrying with the risk of much smaller sizes and even shortages.

Faced with this cocktail of heat and drought, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, decided to activate a crisis cell on Friday, August 5, to deal with "the most serious exceptional drought ever recorded in our country". According to Matignon, "the situation could last for the next 15 days, or even become more worrying". This unit should allow the Departmental Prefects of the most affected areas to provide regular information; to anticipate the possible activation of the ORSEC "water" plans for the affected areas; to coordinate the necessary emergency measures. It will also monitor the impact of this drought in terms of energy production and transport infrastructures as well as the agricultural sector.

The president of the FNSEA had already warned about the consequences for farmers after a dry winter and a sunny spring. "The losses should certainly be close to a billion euros or more," said Christiane Lambert. In a press release published on August 5, the FNSEA called for "immediate support for farmers through cash flow support measures: banks, insurers, MSA funds, suppliers, tax authorities ... must respond to this emergency. All administrative services must also immediately take note of the emergency nature of the situation. Whether it is about the management of water use, whose priorities must be oriented towards food production; whether it is about the exemptions to the implementation of EIS (ecological interest area), which will not be able to be lifted for lack of water, a pragmatic and united approach must be adopted!

Besides, it is urgent to give farmers the means to manage the climatic risk thanks to a crop insurance system whose last parameters must be decided as soon as possible, so that it will be operational on January 1, 2023, and made known to all farmers.

Photo: © Francois HENRY/REA

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