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Drought devastating southern Europe crops

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 01:49

Soaring temperatures and a lack of rain is hitting wheat farmers in Spain and Italy particularly hard and as Kate King reports, the bill could run into the billions of euros.

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Even in winter little rain hit the Spanish countryside. One glimpse of the regions' crops and you can see it's bad. Although that word apparently doesn't do it justice. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FARMER AND PRESIDENT OF YOUNG FARMER ASSOCIATION (ASAJA) JOAQUIN ANTONIO PINO, SAYING: "This year was not bad, it was catastrophic. I can't remember a year like this since 1992 when I was a little child. In the same way that we haven't harvest many of the fields because the revenues wouldn't be enough to pay the labour of the harvester." Drought in southern Europe is threatening production of some of the regions most sought after foods. Olives, almonds, wheat - all hit by the soaring temperatures. Castile and Leon, the largest cereal growing region has been particularly affected, with crop losses estimated at as much as 70 percent. Italy is no better. Its agricultural association has estimated 2017's drought could cost the nations farmers more than one billion euros. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FARMER GREGORIO GARZON, SAYING: "When you want to help someone, decisions have to be taken in the very same moment. It's like when there is a humanitarian catastrophe. It doesn't help to send food a month later, everybody would be dead by then. This is the same. In this region we are financially choked." Crops grown in greenhouses also can't be relied upon, with a limit on the amount of water available. One upside on an otherwise scorched horizon- The drought has helped support EU wheat futures, which have risen around 6 percent since the beginning of June. And as for hunger, a bigger harvest in France should be able provide for the trading bloc. Cold comfort for countries further south - who see rising temperatures as a long-term trend which may threaten the viability of farming.

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Drought devastating southern Europe crops

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 01:49