Lot: after the drought, farmers’ unions are sounding the alarm

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Already weakened, Lot farmers have suffered the full brunt of the drought. Faced with this critical situation, the unions are sounding the alarm.

In front of the sliding gate of Stéphane Pons’ dairy farm in Mechmont, a dozen farmers gathered this Friday morning for a press conference at the initiative of the Departmental Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FDSEA) and Young Farmers (JA) of the Lot. Coffee in hand, questions about the situation are answered only by grimaces. “We brought you together to take stock of the drought, begins Alain Lafragette. We are in an exceptional year, with a dry winter and spring, the first heat in mid-May […] and a lack of precipitation this summer. It only got 2mm of rain in July, and again, I don’t know where they fell. It had an effect on agriculture, animal husbandry, viticulture…”

This year, in the Lot as elsewhere, the heat wave caused major problems with fertilization of summer crops. These have not grown, and therefore have no food value. Christophe Bonnet, secretary general of the FDSEA and farmer in Ginouillac, is worried: “The corn harvests will be lousy. […] We don’t know if we’ll be able to do the welding. Breeding farms had to start starting winter stocks in July. “There is a problem with animal feed. There is strong pressure to find it, which drives up prices, explains the president of the FDSEA. Some farmers are forced to sell their animals, the cost of feed having become too high. »

Stéphane, at the head of a farm with 70 dairy cows, is not there yet, but does not hide the fact that “the hypothesis is on the table. “With the increase in expenses, the losses due to drought and the purchase of fertilizer to replant, I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” he admits. “On average, we have a good year to stock up every 10 years. The last was in 2021,” explains Alain Lafragette. The summer of 2022 has already exhausted the stocks and forced farmers to imperatively stock up next year. Viticulture is also impacted by increasingly extreme weather events. After the episodes of frost, the vines suffered the full brunt of the drought. Grape growth was halted by water stress.

“We are going to set up a calamity file at the level of the department”

In an attempt to help farmers get through the winter, the FDSEA is asking for help. “We are going to set up a calamity file at the level of the department from the end of August with field surveys on crop losses”, announces Alain Lafragette. “Some cultures will not come back. It will be necessary to replant. In the longer term, there will be losses of funds. To deal with the crisis, the president of the FDSEA also calls for an effort from consumers. “We are asking for a price increase to pass this course. But the drought period also confronted farmers with a structural problem: water storage. “Those who had a comfortable year were the farmers who had water reserves. If we have a little for alfalfa, it at least helps to secure the pasture,” certifies Christophe. “We must create water reservoirs for young farmers, otherwise they will not hold,” warns Martial Brouqui, co-president of the Young Farmers of the Lot. Leaving, Alain Lafragette ironically: “We will see each other again this winter for the floods, when we will see the water leaving without being able to store it. »

Source: www.ladepeche.fr

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