FARMERS in the south of France are counting the cost of crop damage after a weekend of torrential rain and hail.
Fruit producers in the Vaucluse have called an emergency meeting today to assess the damage from the storms. More than 12cm of heavy rain and hail fell in parts of the region on Saturday night and most of Sunday.
The worst affected areas include Peypin and Plan-d'Orgon (Bouches-du-Rhône) and Cavaillon (Vaucluse). The local branch of farmers' union FDSEA says many of its members are not insured against hail, because they cannot afford the high premiums.
The Var, Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence were also hit by storms and flash floods at the weekend. Météo France lifted its weather warning last night.
The storm damage is the latest in a series of problems to hit the French farming industry this year. Large parts of the west of France are suffering from drought after the hottest spring in more than a century.
Meanwhile, agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire will today call for financial help from Brussels for French fruit and vegetable producers whose sales have been hit by the E.Coli food poisoning scare.
French cucumber and tomato producers are believed to have lost €5m in the past week alone as customers avoid buying fresh vegetables.
The outbreak was initially linked to Spanish cucumbers but further research has ruled this out. It appears to be a new strain of the bug and could have come from German bean sprouts.
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