France pledges aid for drought-hit farmers
Paris, May 31, 2011
France's government will pay out several hundred million euros in aid to compensate farmers for losses caused by a drought that cut supplies of animal feed for livestock breeders, Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
Le Maire also told a news conference on Tuesday that French bank Credit Agricole would additionally provide 700 million euros ($1 billion) in loans to boost the liquidity of struggling livestock farmers.
'The situation is serious for French farmers. We wanted to act swiftly and on a large scale,' he said. 'To think we could get through this with 80 or 100 million euros would be naive.'
The drought aid will be distributed to farmers from September 15 through France's agricultural disaster fund. Le Maire had previously said the fund was worth about 100 million euros.
The March-May period in France has been the driest in the last 50 years and the hottest since at least 1900, public weather service Meteo France said.
Over half of France's administrative departments are subject to some water restrictions, including irrigation curbs in worst-affected areas, according to environment ministry data.-Reuters