France faces ‘catastrophic’ 30-year low in wheat yields

Philippe Huguen / AFP | A tractor crossing a field of wheat in Steenwerch, northern France.
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France, the European Union's biggest grain producer, is heading for its worst wheat harvest in three decades due to heavy rains and lack of sunlight, the agriculture ministry said Friday.


Wheat output is projected to fall by 30 percent from the 2015 harvest to 29.1 million tonnes, France's lowest level since the drought year of 1986, the ministry said.

"The crops have suffered from too much water and too little light," the ministry’s statistics bureau Agreste said.

"The flowering and the grain maturation happened in bad conditions," it said, adding that the weather conditions had helped diseases and pests to spread.

The region around Paris, as well as eastern and northern France, have been worst affected.

Falling prices

The drop in French production comes at a period of high output in other wheat-producing countries, which has led to a fall in world prices, further adding to the woes of French farmers.

“Not only are volumes very low, but prices are at rock bottom as harvests have been very good elsewhere, notably in Ukraine, Romania and Russia,” Gautier le Molgat, head of French agricultural trading firm Agritel, told Franch daily Le Figaro on Tuesday.

"We are seeing unimaginably catastrophic conditions" for farmers, the Orana farmers union warned last week.

Some farms are bracing for a 75 percent drop in turnover, the farming union said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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