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Hail: new measures for affected farms

UA new series of measures was announced by the government on Monday to relieve farms affected by the violent episode of hail that crossed France at the end of last week. “We are going to activate very quickly the devices that we know, such as the reduction of social charges, the tax exemption on the tax on unbuilt land (…) also look at the devices that can be taken in the context of agricultural disasters”, said the new Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Marc Fesneau, after his meeting with winegrowers in an affected farm Thursday in Saint-Quentin-de-Caplong, in the east of Bordeaux.

“There is a request that has been made, we are working hard on it, to ensure that the loans guaranteed by the State (PGE) can be extended over time, because we will have on our farms loss of revenue,” he said, without giving any figures. In the short term, “we need to have an inventory very quickly to activate the devices (…) We have a very violent event in very many departments but in localized areas. We will do it on a case-by-case basis”, he continued, ensuring “the mobilization of the State”.

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He also returned to the new harvest insurance system, which will apply from 1er January 2023. “It is the doubling of the budget, going from 300 to 600 million euros, which will allow more farmers to obtain insurance. On the prevention side, “we need to work on systems that make it possible to lessen the effects of stormy phenomena (in the face of) climate change which produces more regular and more powerful events,” he said.

Triple penalty

On this farm quickly visited by the Minister, the tender branches were broken, the leaves and the first bunches chopped and for some blackened. “The hail lasted five minutes, three of which were dry hail, without water, which shredded everything. It’s very hard psychologically,” laments Nadège Impériale, the owner, two-thirds of whose 120-hectare estate, which she co-manages with her sister Laurence, are affected, with “between 50% and 100% losses”. Then visiting another farm in the Gers at Castelnau d’Auzan-Labarrère, Marc Fesneau pointed out the “double, even triple, penalty” with calamities that cause “a loss of harvest, an average harvest the following year then a loss of market because we are not able to supply”.

An “urgent” decision for farmers

For the president of the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux wine, Bernard Farges, the announcement of the spreading of the PGE was “urgent”. “What came to save companies cannot today be the source of their downfall. It would be bankrupting them if they were to repay now,” he warned.

The intense storm which crossed France was a “real disaster” for agriculture, the hail having affected vineyards, cereal crops as well as buildings, the president of the FNSEA, Christiane Lambert. Significant damage was noted across France after the passage of this intense storm, with more than 40 departments affected, ranging from Brittany to Gers and Landes via Indre-et-Loire or Allier.

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