European farmers feel the effects of record-breaking heat

PARIS, France, August 4, 2003, from Yahoo News, (AFP): In France, livestock and cereal farmers are finding their livelihood threatened by the drought now officially declared across more than half the country.

With 54 out of 98 departments restricting water usage, the government has stepped in to allow cattle and sheep to graze on land that is kept fallow under European Union rules and to subsidize the transport of feed from less-affected areas.

In France -- but also in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Spain and other countries -- farmers were predicting a drastic fall in cereal and milk yields.

The price of chicken has gone up by more than 35 percent in Spain, as a result of the heat which soared to more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and has killed more than a million birds and led to dramatic weight loss in the rest, the French newspaper Liberation reported.

Meteorologists said the heat wave was caused by an anti-cyclone firmly anchored over the western European land mass, which is holding back the rain-bearing depressions which in normal years make inroads into the continent from the Atlantic Ocean.

On the positive side, dairy farmers are happy as ice cream sales are soaring; and wine growers say the low rainfall bodes well for a high-quality vintage.

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