Germany pledges €340m in farmer aid as drought bites

23.08.2018

Germany has become the latest country to promise state aid to farmers this year, committing to provide €340 million of federal and state assistance to farmers suffering the effects of some of the worst droughts in memory.

Having resisted committing to a relief programme until the extent of this year’s drought became clearer, Germany’s agriculture ministry now sees the situation as serious enough to warrant state support.

“On the basis of the harvest figures and the damage reports of the countries I classify the development as an extraordinary weather event of national extent,” agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner said Wednesday.

German aid is to take the form of a non-repayable cash grant, with eligible farms having to show crop yields falling 30% below the three-year average as well as a threat to their farm’s solvency.

Under the scheme, the federal government will provide half of the pledged amount, with regional governments expected to pick up the rest of the tab.

Emphasising the regional variation in the drought’s impact, the ministry estimates some 10,000 German farms have been affected by this year’s drought – about 4% of the farming population.

The decision comes days after the minister was forced to deny claims the government had left farmers “to hang”.

It is part of a growing programme of financial aid for farmers who are suffering the effects of hot, dry weather this year.

Similar schemes are in the offing in Latvia and Lithuania, while Sweden has already pledged SEK1.2 billion ($131.6 million) to its farmers.

Australian farmers, meanwhile, are already receiving state aid to the tune of AUD2.4 billion ($1.75 billion) after some of the worst droughts on record ravaged crops on its east coast.

Germany farmers’ union – DBV – welcomed the decision, having previously been vocal in criticism of the government as it demanded €1 billion in support for farmers.

“This is a good signal for all affected farmers. States now must shoulder their responsibilities and their share,” DBV chief Joachim Rukwied said in a statement.


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