Heavy rains, late frosts, hailstones the size of golf balls that fall even in the middle of summer... Although the effects of global warming are felt throughout France, winegrowers are particularly affected by these unpredictable weather phenomena.
In the Loire Valley, frost destroyed most of the buds in 2016 and 2017.
In Alsace, violent hailstorms devastated part of the vineyards in the Bas-Rhin at the beginning of June 2017, just as in Beaujolais, where winegrowers were already struggling to stem the losses suffered the previous year. The southernmost regions are not immune from bad weather, as evidenced by Fronton, which was hit by hail in 2017 after being struck by late frosts.
The State can grant a deferment of payment of social contributions or a reduction in taxes on undeveloped land, as was the case in April 2017, but only private insurance can cover part of the damage caused by bad weather.
According to FNSEA figures, 23% of farms are now protected by crop insurance. “We have revised the basic contract, which has enabled us to increase the number of policy holders since 2012,” says Jérôme Volle, spokesman for France's leading agricultural union, before adding a caveat. “If we want to go a step further, we will have to propose a more innovative model to winegrowers”. The specific bone of contention involves the five-year average, which allows the price of insurance contracts to be indexed. “It is very low after three bad years, which has led to an increase of between 2 and 10% in the price of contracts in 2018”.
Reducing the excess on insurance policies also raises issues as the vast majority of wine growers prefer to give up European subsidies rather than be exposed to a non assumption of responsibility of the insurance share if damage does not exceed 30% of the covered area. The subject is a priority for the industry and will be “studied so that a scheme that better reflects reality can be secured from 2019 onwards”, says Jérôme Volle.
By Alexandra Reveillon