Drought hits French agriculture amid tourism boom

Pascal Parrot/Getty Images

Farmers in France are worried about the lack of rainfall, as local authorities impose water restrictions in 17 parts of the country. 


France has just experienced its hottest April since 1900, with average temperatures four degrees higher than normal for the time of year, while over the last 4 months, less than half the usual amount of rainfall for the period has fallen, according to the French meteorological office.

In Caen and Beauvais in the north of the country, only two millimetres of rain fell in April, compared to the usual 50 millimetres at this time of year. Elsewhere its the same story, apart from in the Mediterranean coastal areas.

Persistant anti-cyclones in the North Sea, around the British Isles and France, are preventing rain from falling on France.

On Friday, 17 counties in France imposed water restrictions, in a bid to limit the effects of the drought.

Its good news for the tourist industry, which is reporting a healthy increase in bookings for holiday accommodation, but farmers are worried.

Jean Michel Rambault raises cattle in western France, "I've never seen anything like it", he remarks, "If we don't get any rain in the next three weeks, it will become very difficult.
The pastures are parched in some parts, when they should be green at this time of year.
There's not enough grass for the animals to eat. We are having to give them hay".

And in Burgundy, cattle farmer Thierry Poirier explains that he won't be able to stock up food to feed his herds in the winter. 

Stephane Reigner is a cereal farmer in the west of France, and says he expects a three fold drop in his harvest.


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