France’s path towards sustainable farming eroded by increased droughts

(EurActiv, 6 Sep 2019) This year’s intense drought in France has already led to the elimination of fallow fields. It has also created tensions that are not so favourable to the negotiations over the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy. EURACTIV France reports.

According to France’s main agricultural trade union, FNSEA, 14,000 farms out of 440,000 have filed compensation claims, following the extreme heat and lack of rain that ravaged France during the spring and summer.

These periods of extreme heat and rain have created severe problems for a sector that is already fragile. Crop loss leads to a loss of revenue, especially for the summer crops, such as maize, sugar beet, potatoes and pastures, which have been hit the hardest.

Winter crops, such as wheat, barley and rapeseed, are doing quite well in terms of volumes, but international market prices are relatively low.

For affected crops, compensation only works for farmers who are insured, and few farmers can fully insure their crops. According to the French Insurance Federation, the annual cost of drought periods is continuously increasing, reaching up to €700-900 million a year, depending on the year.

For 2019, FNSEA estimated agricultural losses to amount to €80 million. The problem is mainly that these losses will affect some parts of the country, such as the Massif Central and the North-East more than others.

Sacrificed fallow fields

In response to this situation, the French agricultural ministry has decided to advance the payment of CAP subsidies to October, exempt farmers from property tax on undeveloped properties and delay the payment of contributions to the country’s primary social cover system for farmers, the Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA).

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EurActiv, 6 Sep 2019: France’s path towards sustainable farming eroded by increased droughts