France Pledges Financial Aid Of €1bn For Frost-Hit Farms
The French government has pledged €1 billion ($1.2 billion) of financial aid for farmers who were worst affected by this month's spring frosts and cold weather, the prime minister's office has said.
The measures include a mix of tax rebates, state-guaranteed loans and state-subsidised furlough programmes, it said, adding that local government officials provide emergency funds for farmers who can't make ends meet.
Growers who have suffered the most significant losses will be eligible to an 'agricultural disaster' scheme, under which they will be granted compensation equivalent to up to 40% of lost crops.
Similar measures will be put in place for wine growers, who are not yet covered by the scheme.
Temperatures have fallen well below zero for several nights in a row in many parts of France, the European Union's biggest grain producer. The unfavourable conditions have caused major damage to vineyards, orchards and sugar beet, leading to record frost-related losses.
Winemakers lit candles and burned bales of straw to try to protect their vineyards from the frosts, which have triggered fears of serious damage and lost production.
France's largest farm union, the FNSEA, welcomed the government's emergency measures, adding that it estimates losses for French growers at more than €3 billion.
Carrefour Pledges Support
Elsewhere, Carrefour has announced a series of initiatives to support almost 4,000 partner producers involved in its Carrefour Quality Line, Reflets de France, and Carrefour Bio products.
The retailer has pledged to honour all its commitments to work with partner producers over three-year periods, thus guaranteeing them as much of an overview as possible over future seasons.
It will adapt its requirements for the appearance of fruit and vegetables to help farmers recover as much of their produce as possible.
Carrefour added that it will reduce payment terms to ease cash flow issues that its partner producers may be facing.
The retailer has also reiterated its pledge to purchase French origin products and prioritise local goods in its stores throughout the season.
Rami Baitieh, executive director of Carrefour France, said, “To help our farmers through the trials that they are currently experiencing, Carrefour is standing shoulder to shoulder with them and will support them in the long run. Our responsibility is to be their partner – whatever the circumstances.”