Provence vine grower shot at while spraying crop

Representatives from the local farming and winemaking associations have written to the French President after a grower was shot at while spreading Bordeaux mixture on his vines.

The incident took place on the evening of the 16-17 July, according to a letter addressed to President Macron.

The grower, who has not been named and was not harmed, was tending to his vines in Gonfaron, a commune in the Var department.

At the time, the grower did not realise they were shots, and it was only after returning to an outbuilding to rinse out his pneumatic sprayer that he discovered two bullet holes.

The letter, dated 24 July, bears the signatures of 26 individuals from the local, regional and national farming and winemaking bodies including the French Farming Federation (FDSEA) and the Provence wine council (CIVP).

According to the letter, the grower has lodged an official complaint following the incident. The industry bodies warn that a line had been crossed in terms of the violence and intolerance shown towards the farming profession.

“It is unacceptable that the act of cultivating our land should generate violence and hatred,” the letter reads. “Our profession is now in an extremely critical situation.”

The groups are calling for a “zero tolerance” approach to violence against farmers, and have called on the president to give the police forces the necessary powers to provide protection to those in the industry.

According to Vitisphere, the shots were reportedly fired from a neighbouring property.

Speaking to the publication, Laurent Grimaud, secretary general of the FDSEA, warned that the grower could have easily come to harm.

“Today it’s a sprayer tank, tomorrow it’ll be someone’s head,” he said. “He [the grower] is in a complete state of shock, he could have died.

“We’re used to being insulted or filmed when we’re spraying, but this is the first time someone has been shot at. In Var, we all spray at night when the wind drops and the vines are the most receptive. It takes a tractor 10 minutes to spray a vineyard. It’s like a dustbin lorry that comes along at 5am, it doesn’t bother anyone.”

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