Hailstorm in the Gers: no announcement but the Minister of Agriculture in support of winegrowers

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Covid crisis, spring frost episodes in 2021 then 2022, war in Ukraine and now hail… For three years, Gers winegrowers have suffered the pangs of the international context and increasingly capricious weather. The new Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau was at the bedside of the sector this Monday in Castelnau d’Auzan. Narrative.

“Around 7:45 p.m., the cloud arrived. A friend present on the estate was taking a photo: “Look, it looks like the aurora borealis!” I replied: “No, it’s a hail cloud” and I left straight away. to shelter what I could”, says Vincent Piquement, co-manager of the Danis estate with his sister Victoire in Castelnau d’Auzan. It was Friday evening and in the meantime, the independent winegrower left to take his mind off the Feria de Vic. Because after the passage of hail, emotion invaded her… “We have around forty hectares of vines, everything has been ravaged. And the hail will have an impact on the 2023 harvest, with a 50% yield. less”, announces Vincent Piquemal, whose domain had already been impacted up to 80% by previous episodes of frost.

Marc Fesneau, new Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty.

This Monday, the Gers winemaker was able to discuss with the new Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau. The former deputy of Loir-et-Cher and Minister of Relations with Parliament (2018-2022), an archery enthusiast, arrived at Castelnau d’Auzan in the middle of the day for his first official trip to the region. . “I wanted first of all to be present, with the winegrowers in Gironde then here in the Gers, but it will be necessary to quickly activate devices after a precise inventory of the damage and its extent”, sums up Marc Fesneau.

Lower costs and extension of PGEs under study

On this aspect, no precise figures were put forward on Monday: the stormy episode, brief but intense, last Friday would have affected between 4000 and 5000 hectares in the north-west of the department. With wine estates partially affected and others, like that of the Lapique family in Castelnau d’Auzan, 100% devastated.

The vines bruised by the hailstorm of June 3rd.

The vines bruised by the hailstorm of June 3rd.

Among the levers: reductions in charges or tax exemption measures on unbuilt land, the triggering of the agricultural disaster regime (not on the agenda yesterday but demanded in particular by the President of the Department Philippe Dupouy and Senator Franck Montaugé ) and the extension in duration of loans guaranteed by the State. “The wine world made great use of these PGEs during the Covid crisis, after the loss of outlets to sell their production. This measure should make it possible to provide them with the cash they need and to postpone repayments. It will appear in the budget debate for the month of July”, said Marc Fesneau, this Monday in Castelnau d’Auzan.

Exchange between Xavier Duffau (JA 32), Christian Cardona (FDSEA) and Minister Marc Fesneau at the Dantis estate.

Exchange between Xavier Duffau (JA 32), Christian Cardona (FDSEA) and Minister Marc Fesneau at the Dantis estate.

The call for an emergency fund, as for arboriculturists last April, was also mentioned on Monday… while farmers and winegrowers affected by the 2022 frost can still file their application (until June 13 ) with State services.

Insurance at the heart of European debates

Still on the “curative” side, the question of insurance – and especially of the decried “Olympic average” – was again invited in the exchanges this Monday between minister and representatives of the Gers wine world. “When insurance companies calculate compensation on the average of declining production years, as has been the case in recent years, it takes away the interest of contributing to insurance, concedes Marc Fesneau. This is an identified problem. , and it is a debate that we are carrying out at European level because it is at the international level, of the WTO, that this can be settled.”

The government’s objective remains that more and more farmers can use insurance “to avoid dramatic situations”. On March 2, a law was passed to reform the crop insurance system, “by establishing more accessible coverage against climatic risks”. The only downside: it will not come into force until next January 1 and the year 2022 is definitely not sparing winegrowers in the Southwest.

Source: www.ladepeche.fr

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