Repeated droughts, floods or even this episode of historic frost last spring are increasing in France. Antoine Chiquet designates a parcel “80% jelly last April”. On 23 hectares of exploitation, the winegrower, producer of champagne of the Gaston Chiquet brand in Dizy, in the Marne, lost nearly 35% of its buds due to frost.
In an attempt to compensate for the losses linked to these extreme and recurring climatic phenomena, by evacuating the current system deemed too complex and ineffective, the government is putting on the table “a universal protection scheme”, a reform of “harvest insurance”. The bill is being debated on Wednesday January 12 in the National Assembly for entry into force in January 2023.
Antoine Chiquet, him, was able to cope thanks to a Champagne specificity. “The years when we have large qualitative harvests, we can put a quantity of wine in reserve”, explains the winemaker. “Which makes it possible to compensate for bad years like this year”. “Champagne does not need the new crop insurance model that the government wants to put in place”, believes the winemaker. “We don’t want Champagne to finance like other regions.”
Same story at the General Union of Winegrowers of Champagne. “We need a tool to deal with climatic hazards, it’s obvious”, concedes Maxime Toubart, the president. “On the other hand, these tools must be adapted to the region. I think we have to do it on a case-by-case basis.” But the overhaul of crop insurance provides for the opposite, that is to say a single system, without obligation but with strong incentives to encourage farmers to take out insurance against the vagaries of the weather. They are currently too few: less than one in four, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The draft provides for a “universal compensation scheme” with three tiers. In the first, the farmers bear the losses up to 20% alone. Beyond that, insurance takes over, subsidized at 70% by the common agricultural policy. At the third level, in the event of disasters of exceptional magnitude such as spring frost, there is room for national solidarity. Public funds are mobilized without distinction and everyone can benefit from them. On the other hand, those who are not insured will be less compensated.
“Regions that are spared today may be heavily affected tomorrow.”Joël Limouzin, vice-president of the FNSEA
The FNSEA, the majority agricultural union supports this reform. “We need there to be a principle of national solidarity and that we have this mutualisation approach“, defends Joël Limouzin. But the Confédération paysanne and thirteen other unions and organizations oppose it. In a column published on Tuesday on the Terre-net site, the project is qualified “unfair and excluding“, considered too favorable to private insurers.
Crop insurance divides farmers: the report by Benjamin Illy