in Vienne, farmers without insurance after bad weather

Faced with her vines severed by hail, Anicette Gilbert lowers her head. “We are desperate, we are stunned, we don’t know what to do…” The very violent hailstorm, which broke out on Saturday June 4 at the end of the afternoon, ravaged his farm, like all those located in the town of Saix, in the Loudunais. Two weeks after the first bad weather around Chauvigny, 150 hectares of vines and 850 hectares of cereals were destroyed. However, for these crops, in France, only one out of three farmers is insured.

The ears of wheat were completely “shattered” by the hail. © Radio France
Bastien Munch

This is not the case of Frédéric Trudeau, Anicette’s neighbor in Saix. He also cultivates vines, with a few hectares of cereals. In total, 80% of his farm is destroyedand he never took out insurance. “Not many people are insured against hail here”he explains. “The elders always said that we are in a sector not too affected. We always avoided disasters, so we did not make sure…”

Frédéric Trudeau found his vines completely severed by hailstones.
Frédéric Trudeau found his vines completely severed by hailstones. © Radio France
Bastien Munch

Insurance prices are skyrocketing

Sébastien Berger never thought of taking out insurance either. Luckily, his cereal farm, located in Saint-Clair, was not affected. But he has already changed his mind. “We were trying to think about the risk-benefit, to find out if it was worth it, that we do not pay for fifteen years a sum that may be lost”justifies the farmer, also president of the FNSEA in Vienne. “Until now it was okay, the risk was average. But today, when we see how the climate is changing from day to day and the latest hailstorms, we are scared. And I think that I am the first, I I’ll end up making sure.”

Some vines were completely burned by hailstones.
Some vines were completely burned by hailstones. © Radio France
Bastien Munch

“We will have to anticipate this in operating projects, set budget lines to seek insurance”, continues Sébastien Berger. “Let’s bite into my annual treasury. The risk has become too great.” For her part, Anicette Gilbert “bites” on her cash for several years already. It is insured against hail “at least” on its 13 hectares of vines, but not on its 80 hectares of cereals. In one year, its insurance rates have doubled. “On paper, it’s accessible to everyone. But in reality, it’s not the case. We’re still in tight flow and we don’t have cash to put into insurance.”

“A Band-Aid on a Wooden Leg”

“A profession that can no longer insure itself, that raises questions”protests the farmer. “The individual pays for his insurance and manages to pay it, so I don’t see why we can’t do it. The state needs to sit around the table with insurers, banks, the agricultural profession. Disasters like that are likely to happen again. So now is the time to roll up our sleeves and see what we can do.” believes Anicette Gilbert. While traveling in Gironde, the Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau has already announced that the State would inject 300 million euros to encourage farmers to take out insurance.

The entire holding of Frédéric Trudeau, a farmer in Saix, was destroyed.
The entire holding of Frédéric Trudeau, a farmer in Saix, was destroyed. © Radio France
Bastien Munch

And even the hectares of vines of Anicette covered by the insurance will not change much. “It will just compensate for the inputs, the processing products”, explains the winemaker. “But in no way will it cushion the loss of crops or labor. It’s a band-aid on a wooden leg.” Anicette Gilbert now hopes benefit from agricultural calamities, even if in principle, the device only applies to uninsurable plots, therefore not to vines and cereals. A system that will evolve from January 1, 2023, with the creation of a universal compensation scheme for farmers, supposed to be simpler and more accessible.

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