Berlin (Reuters) – German farmers are complaining of crop losses for the third year in a row due to drought and other weather extremes.
The grain harvest in 2020 is expected to be 42.4 million tons, around five percent below the average of the five previous years, as the German Farmers’ Association announced on Tuesday in Berlin. “In many places 2020 was the third year marked by extreme weather conditions, which threatened the very existence of some farms,” said Farmer President Joachim Rukwied. The drought, which began in mid-March and lasted into June in some regions, was a particular problem for farmers. “Climate change is manifesting itself,” said Rukwied. “We no longer have the stability of crop yields that we had ten or 15 years ago.”
The farmers therefore call for the state. Tax subsidies and start-up capital for setting up insurance could help farmers to protect themselves individually and voluntarily against the risks of climate change. “We need to set up a multi-risk insurance policy,” said Rukwied. “Agriculture cannot do that on its own.” Therefore, the federal and state governments would have to help with start-up funding in the first few years. Political support is also necessary when breeding more resilient plants.
“PRICE BARALLY AFFORDABLE”
Insurers are also in favor of more government aid for farmers. So far, only about 0.02 percent of the agricultural area in Germany has been insured against drought, calculated the Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV). Drought can also hit several regions at the same time and thus lead to high damage. “In order to be able to cover drought damage, the premiums and deductibles for insurance cover are correspondingly high and are hardly affordable for farmers,” said Jörg Asmussen, member of the GDV management. The association therefore believes that funding is necessary, as in other EU countries, where the premiums would be subsidized with up to 70 percent.
According to the farmers’ association, the lower harvest did not lead to price increases because the supply situation is good worldwide. “Prices are still under pressure,” said the farmers’ president. One tonne of wheat would only cost around 160 euros. Brewing barley looks much worse than last year because of the Corona crisis, because beer consumption suffered from the closure of pubs and hotels. Therefore, the producer prices for brewing barley are currently 163 euros per ton, around 20 euros below the previous year’s level.