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    At least 166 Walloon communes hit by drought

    © Belga
    © Belga

    At least 166 Walloon communes were affected by an exceptional drought between 1 May and 1 August, according to data from the Royal Meteorological Institute (IRM), Wallonia’s Minister of Agriculture, René Collin, disclosed on Monday. The number of affected communes could increase by the end of August. Compensation is expected by early 2019 from the Agricultural Disasters Fund. The damage caused by the intense drought affects “the entire agricultural sector and all crops”.

    The Government has requested European Commission support for a number of measures, including the payment of advances in the two pillars of the Joint Farm Policy, the relaxation of all greening rules and the possibility of allowing farmers to utilise areas normally set aside as mandatory green belts. The Commission is, however, not expected to decide before the end of August.

    Minister Collin has asked the IRM to determine whether the drought’s impact on crops can be considered an agricultural disaster.  

    According to the first analyses conducted from 1 May to 1 August, 166 Walloon communes have been affected, most of them in the provinces of Hainaut and Walloon Brabant, a good part of Namur and areas in the provinces of Liège and Luxembourg.

    New calculations are programmed for the end of this month since the drought continued beyond 1 August. Depending on their results, official reports will have to be drawn up at harvest-time. The figures will then be communicated to the Walloon Government and decisions will be taken on an individual basis.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times