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FOOD & DRINK

French farmers warn of rising prices for fruit and vegetables after drought

French farmers have warned of rising food prices due to the summer's heatwave, drought and water restrictions.

French farmers warn of rising prices for fruit and vegetables after drought
Fruit and vegetable prices are set to rise in France. Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP

Peaches, kiwis, apples, pears, carrots, cucumber, potatoes, turnips, leeks, tomatoes and lettuces are all set to rise dramatically in price after France’s worst drought in 60 years lead to severely reduced harvests.

“We have losses of between 30 and 35 percent on average,” said Jacques Rouchaussé, the president of the vegetable producers union, to the Parisien newspaper.

“Faced with a long drought, such as the one we are experiencing, we have little means to act.”

After a bad summer last year, farmers were expecting a good summer season since the winter frost finally spared the crops. But the lack of rainfall and water restrictions in some regions of France prevent growers from keeping fruit trees and root vegetables undamaged.

“Our products suffer from water stress and come out much smaller,” Françoise Rose, president of the fruit producers union, told the Parisien.

Although growers in the south know how to deal with very dry episodes, the real difficulties are in the regions used to having rain regularly, said Laurent Grandin, president of Interfel, the union for both fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Our sector is not in a catastrophic state as a whole, some areas are suffering more than others,” he added.

“We have to return to a seasonality, we cannot have tomatoes all year round. The consumer must also show frugality,” said Jacques Rouchaussé.

The consumer association Familles Rurales has already recorded an 11 percent increase over one year in fruit and vegetable prices. With smaller quantities and lower quality products, this trend is set to continue in September, including for processed products, such as tomato sauce or tinned soup.

Climate adaptation

With more violent episodes of frost or drought, producers need to adapt to a changing climate.

In the short term, producers are talking about the use of wastewater. They want the establishment of “retention basins”, made up in winter with rainwater in particular and usable in the event of drought in summer.

Another mitigating option to limit the impact of sweltering heat would be to invest in equipment to protect orchards and vegetable gardens such as so-called cold shelters.

“We must all act so that our professions and our cultures remain, said Jacques Rouchaussé. “Otherwise, we will grow tomatoes in the north and the south will only be able to grow rice!”

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ENVIRONMENT

French politicians step up bids to crack down on private jets

French senators have filed a bill to ban the use of private jets for short flights, two days after left-wing MPs published plans to stop private planes taking off altogether.

French politicians step up bids to crack down on private jets

Amid climate concerns, and following controversy over Ligue 1 football giants Paris Saint-Germain’s private flight to play a match in Nantes, just two-and-a-half hours away by train, Senators from France’s green party have proposed a bill planning flights by private jet if the journey can be made by train in less than two-and-a-half hours.

Commercial domestic flights are already banned in France if a rail route of less than two-and-a-half hours exists, and the EELV senators say that their bill “is a logical extension of the provisions of the Climate Law that prohibit these same routes to airlines”.

“There is no reason why what is forbidden for everyone should remain authorised for our most well-off compatriots,” the lawmakers added.

It is the second bill in a few days that seeks to tackle the issue of private jets.

On Monday, MPs from the far-left La France Insoumise party, sitting in France’s other parliament the Assemblée nationale, had filed a bill to ban the use of all private jets in France, calling it “an urgent ecological measure”. 

This text of this bill calls for a ban on “the circulation of private aircraft chartered at the request of a private individual or a company except conventional commercial flights” from January 1st, 2023. 

The LFI bill excluded flights for urgent medical reasons or national security.

Neither proposed laws are likely to come into effect, but they join a growing national conversation around the use of private jets in France – which has the highest number of private jet flights in Europe.

Transport Minister Clément Beaune, made headlines when he called for the “regulation of private jet flights”, adding that “behaviours must change”. 

However, he later clarified that he was not advocating a total ban, and said that he wanted to tackle the issue at an EU level – meaning that immediate legislation is unlikely. 

He spoke of the possibility of “tax measures” on aviation, which he said enjoys “a more favourable tax regime than certain modes of transport”.

Minister of Ecological Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher said that all sectors must participate in efforts to reduce carbon output, but that it was not “serious” to suggest that banning jets would solve “the whole problem”.

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