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Farmers voice drought fears

Water restrictions in place, but lack of rain could halve the supply of feed for livestock

A DROUGHT spreading across France could affect cattle feed, farmers fear.

Farmers said up to 50% of grass and crops destined to feed livestock could be lost because historically-low rainfall has produced ground conditions not normally seen until mid-summer.

More than ten departments have introduced water restrictions already, banning the watering of public green spaces and people from filling up swimming pools.

(To see the list visit the Ministry of Ecologie site)

Up to 58% of reservoirs in France are already below normal water levels, according to the ministry, which will hold a meeting on May 16 to discuss the issue. Underground water supplies are also affected.

"We are clearly ahead (in terms of drought measures) by comparison with previous years," said a spokesman for the ministry.

The north of France was seeing a level of drought not experienced for 50 years according to Météo France.

While it was impossible to say the situation was directly caused by climate change, a spokesman for Météo France said droughts were part of "expected changes" as a result of global warming.

April 2011 was the hottest April in France since 1900 according to the weather forecaster.

Photo: abet - Fotolia.com

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