Crop failure and bankruptcy threaten farmers as drought grips Europe
Farmers across northern and central Europe are facing crop failure and bankruptcy as one of the most intense regional droughts in recent memory strengthens its grip.
States of emergency have been declared in Latvia and Lithuania, while the sun continues to bake Swedish fields that have received only 12% of their normal rainfall.
The abnormally hot temperatures – which have topped 30C in the Arctic Circle – are in line with climate change trends, according to the World Meteorological Organization. And as about 50 wildfires rage across Sweden, no respite from the heatwave is yet in sight.
Lennart Nilsson, a 55-year-old cattle farmer from Falkenberg near Malmo and co-chair of the Swedish Farmers Association, said it was the worst drought he had experienced.
The picture is little different in the Netherlands, where Iris Bouwers, a 25-year-old farmer, said the parched summer had been a “catastrophe” for her farm.
“Older families around me are comparing this to 1976,” she said. “My dad can’t remember any drought like this.”
The Bouwerses expect to lose €100,000 this year after a 30% drop in their potato crop. After investing in a pig stable over the winter, the family have no savings to cover the loss.
Asked what she would do, Bouwers just laughed. “Hope and pray,” she said. “There is not much more I can do. I wouldn’t talk about bankruptcy yet, but our deficit will be substantial. It probably means we need to have a very good talk with the bank.”