Thursday, June 2, 2011

Farmers in crisis as France's worst drought in decades bites

Tony Todd in France 24: The worst drought in decades threatens to cripple France’s agricultural sector, while strict water restrictions are being imposed across the country. Hervé Brulé, a project director at the French Ministry of Ecology, told FRANCE 24 on Wednesday the water shortage was more severe than 1976, when a heat wave and 16-month dry spell parched much of northern Europe.

“This is much worse than anything on record,” he said. “Of course the weather might change as we go into the second half of the year, but so far we have had less spring rain than in 1976.” Brulé said water restrictions were active in 58 of France’s 96 mainland departments, meaning households were forbidden by law from watering their gardens or filling up their swimming pools on certain days and during daylight hours (see graphic below).

France is the EU's biggest producer of wheat, and a bad harvest could have significant implications for the price of bread far beyond its borders. And in France itself, a prolonged drought could have severe implications in a sector that is already on the brink. Among the worst affected is the younger generation, which has borrowed heavily to invest in properties that have been ravaged by the dry weather….

A somewhat drought stricken hemp field in Portet-sur-Garonne, France. Shot by Olybrius, who has released it into the public domain

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