the agricultural world is looking for a solution between insurance and adaptation

After a month of July qualified as the second driest month since 1959, the drought and the heat wave are weighing on field crops. As a result, France is already experiencing a general decline in its production, according to official figures from Agreste cited by agro-climatologist Serge Zaka.

Concern is also rising over the production of fodder with meadows which are already no longer able to feed livestock in many regions of France. “Today French breeders are forced to feed their animals on pasture with hay harvested two months ago but which was planned for this winter.“, alert Bruno Cardot, breeder in the Hauts de France, on Twitter.

Normally, breeders begin to feed the animals with fodder from October or November, when the grass is no longer abundant enough. “It’s going to be very, very worrying for this winter,” hammers the farmer. This production is “strongly correlated with the soil water index which is down 21% on July 20 and up to -63% in PACA“, emphasizes Serge Zaka.

Risk sharing between the State, farmers and insurers

The situation will not improve in the short term. The country is experiencing a third episode of heat wave. To cope with these droughts and the climatic hazards which will increase with global warming, the State has provided for a new universal system of compensation for crop losses resulting from climatic hazards. It will be operational on January 1, 2023.

This scheme is, according to the provisions of the law, intended to share the risk between the State, farmers and insurers. The system provides for three levels of risk coverage: minor risks remain borne by the farmer, those of medium intensity will be pooled between the territories and the sectors by means of a harvest insurance contract (MRC) whose premiums are supported by the state. Finally, so-called catastrophic risks will be covered by the national agricultural risk management fund (FNGRA). Insurers in the sector are forced to join in order to share data and pool risks, to establish the fairest possible insurance premium.

As for farmers, they are not obliged to subscribe to a crop insurance system. However, the terms of compensation will be less favorable for those without a contract. In addition, a mechanism for “modulating” the installation aid encourages young farmers to take out multi-risk climate insurance as soon as they start their business. With these incentives, the ministry hopes that half of the crops will be insured by 2030, while the profession is today very poorly covered for climate risks – despite insurance premiums subsidized at 65% by the Agricultural Policy municipality (PAC).

For systems “more resilient to climate change

The implementing decrees for this reform voted last March are still being negotiated, but it is already considered insufficient. Elected officials denounce the preponderant place given to the private sector. The Confédération paysanne also pleads for the creation of a “mutual and solidarity fund” involving the sectors in particular. The union is also campaigning for support towards “systems more resilient to climate change“, confides to the Pilgrim Denis Perreau, farmer in Côte-d’Or and one of the secretaries of the Peasant Confederation.

A wish also defended by researchers who call for crops to adapt to climate change. The National Institute of Agronomic Research (Inrae) notably launched the Deroval program which works on the development of crops capable of producing with little water. Other programs such as Solagro’s “AgriAdapt – AWA” tool also facilitate the adaptation of farms to the new climate situation.

Mathilde Golla @Mathgolla

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