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French government announces €230 million for winegrowers

The French Prime Minister has announced that vignerons will benefit from a €230 million ($250 million) boost as the ministry of Agriculture floats the idea of grubbing-up of 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of vineyard.

According to local French news site Sud-Ouest, around €80m of the package will be for those vignerons who have been hit by recent outbreaks of mildew and suffered losses from drought (losing  minimum of 20% of the total crop will see growers receive between €5,000 and €20,000 it said) while the remaining €150 million is set aside to finance the vine-pull schemes that have already been planned.

The farmers initially made the demands for the funds back in November.

Last week Gabriel Attal also cancelled the planned increase in tax on agricultural non-road diesel, which sparked the recent demonstrations, as well as simplifications to the tax rebate on fuel, promising that the government will stop imposing stricter regulation on its farmers than EU regulations require.

Vignerons were initially concerned that their complaints were not addressed by the government, with Ludovic Roux, president of the Occitanie wine growers, being quoted by French news site L’Independent on Tuesday evening as saying that the sector had “been so burned in the past that we are waiting for concrete measures to believe in them”. 

However since then farmers in the Haut- Garonne, Gironde, Hérault, Rhône and Sarthe have responded by lifting the blockades, and the president of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA), Arnaud Rousseau  – who initially told Le Monde that “ The Prime Minister’s announcements do not answer all of the questions we ask ourselves” – has called on farmers to end the demonstrations and go home.

In March last year, the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB)  struck a deal with the French government to compensate growers for the grubbing up thousands of hectares of unproductive vineyards to reduce the area under vines in the Gironde department by around 10%, thereby reducing oversupply of wines in the market, as well as tackling the spread of vine disease flavescence dorée. It followed the government pledging €160 million fund to help vignerons deal with oversupply of wine, with 40 million coming from the French government and another €40 million from the European agricultural guarantee fund (EAGF) funding (EAGF).

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