EU farmers warn harvest will fail after floods, plea for aid

The Flemish region of Belgium was hard hit by recent flooding. [SHUTTERSTOCK]

The flooding across several EU countries this week has “effectively eliminated” any hope of a successful harvest in these areas, EU farmers’ association COPA-COGECA has warned as the European Commission pledged to support the sector.

This past week has seen severe floods across several EU member states, including Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg, devastating whole communities and resulting in at least 188 deaths.

As well as the human cost, the deadly floods have also taken a heavy toll on the agricultural sector, according to EU farmers’ association COPA-COGECA, which said that the flooding had caused a “perturbation to economic activities throughout the agricultural sector.”

Belgium and Germany were particularly badly hit, where the rains heavily impacted agricultural buildings and farms and led to flooded crops and soil erosion.

This has “effectively eliminated” any signs of a successful harvest at this stage, the farmers’ association warned in a statement released on Monday (19 July).

It underlined the importance of “swift European Commission action to help and support all citizens, farmers and areas affected by the climatic conditions of the past week.”

Record rainfalls and flooding reaches Austria

After Western Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands were hit by hit by unprecedented flash floods on Thursday, record rainfalls also triggered severe floods in Austria during the weekend.

Multiple regions were hit by heavy rainfall. In many areas …

“The recent climatic impact of floods across Western Europe highlight not only the need for better support but also call for the necessary resources to properly deal with such issues, as the ravaging floods […] caused detrimental losses across many lands, affecting agricultural crops, and families,” the statement read.

It added that farmers and agri-cooperatives stand ready for action to help their communities, as farmers across Europe have shown with their efforts to help affected areas by mobilising tractors, tanks, and other agricultural equipment.

Speaking during a press conference on Monday, EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski expressed his “full solidarity” with member states affected by natural disasters and flooding.

Offering condolences for the victims, he said that he had discussed with EU ministers at this week’s AGRIFISH Council what can be done to help farmers and rural communities affected by this crisis.

“Fortunately, in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), there are tools and instruments of support for restoration and reconstruction of the damages by the natural disaster,” the Commissioner said, pointing specifically to measures 5 and 7 in the second pillar of the CAP.

“We declared full support for the very smooth procedure and cooperation of the member states advocating for this form of support,” he said, adding that options for state aid are also possible with the support of the European Commission.

Further support measures could include advances on payments as well as exemptions from certain obligations for affected farmers.

Asked for further details, the Commissioner told EURACTIV that it is currently too early to know the scale of the damages and that the Commission is awaiting member states’ lead, but is ready to accept proposals based on individual assessments of the damage.

“We are in contact with member states so that there can be concrete support for farmers affected by this disaster,” he said.

[Edited by Josie Le Blond]

Merkel sees 'surreal' wreckage as Europe flood death toll tops 180

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday (18 July) that she was horrified by the “surreal” devastation in the flood-ravaged region of Germany, as the toll in western Europe reached at least 184 people dead with dozens still missing.

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