France lifts caps on compensation for farmers ravaged by April frost

·1 min read

The French government on Saturday promised its compensation scheme for farmers hit by unseasonal April frost would bring major financial relief to the sector.

After visiting a farm in Ardèche, in south-eastern France, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced plans to remove caps on compensation for agricultural disasters.

“We will use all the means at our disposal,” he said – adding the government would bring together bankers, insurers and others to respond to the crisis.

His announcement comes a day after the government activated a system to compensate for losses of crops and funds caused by natural disasters including drought, flooding and frost.

The frost that covered swathes of France this week is expected to be among the worst in recent decades, decimating many crops – particularly vines and orchards.

"We can see that these weather patterns are linked to climate change," Castex said during his visit to Colombier-le-Cardinal, adding that "we must follow up on structural change" to help the agricultural sector.

These goals could be reached with the PAC - or commun agriculture pact - at a European level as well as the climate law currently being debated in the French parliament.

"France needs a strong agricultural sector - it's a question of sovereignty," he said.

Widespread damage

Ten of France’s 13 regions were affected – more than three-quarters of the country – with many wine and fruit growers losing much of their harvest.

French media reports said only 30 percent of winemakers were insured against frost because of the prohibitive cost.

"The frost insurance is so expensive … you’d be paying more than what you would receive,” winegrower Denis Grandvaux told France Info.

Instead, many winemakers lit thousands of glowing, small fires to ward off the frost.