Destroyed farms, drowned animals, fields covered with mud and rubble: the flood disaster also hit farmers hard.
"The destruction is huge," says Michael Horper, President of the Rhineland-Nassau Farmers and Winegrowers Association (BWV).
“We cannot yet accurately assess the damage, but it will surely run into the billions.” The exact extent will only be revealed in the coming weeks, when the water has completely drained off.
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Bernhard Conzen, President of the Rhenish Agricultural Association (RLV), assumes that in his association area in the south of North Rhine-Westphalia alone, 2000 to 2500 farms could be affected by the flood damage. “There is a risk of crop failures in many regions,” he says. The grain had been pushed to the ground by the heavy rain. “That not only makes the harvest more difficult and reduces the yield. So often stored grain can only be sold as feed grain, ”explains Conzen. It is extremely uncertain whether crops can still be harvested in fields that are covered in mud and earth.
The harvest has also been destroyed on many grassland areas, says BWV President Horper.
However, there are currently no threats to supply the animals.
“We receive feed donations from other regions.
The willingness to help is great. ”However, the farmers are faced with challenges due to the destroyed infrastructure.
“There are farmers who cannot reach their fields.
Sometimes the milk cannot be picked up from the farms, ”reports Horper.
Only two wineries in the Ahr valley were spared
The Rhineland is also a wine region. In the Ahr valley in particular, the tidal waves left an image of devastation. "Except for two wineries, the tide hit all of the winegrowers," says Knut Schubert, Managing Director of the Ahr Wine Association. Many of the 65 main and several hundred part-time businesses are completely destroyed, there is no electricity, no water and no internet. “Individual wine villages are still cut off and can only be reached by helicopter,” reports Schubert.
The supplies in the wine cellars have sunk in water and mud. Hubert Pauly, President of the Ahr Wine Association, estimates that the one and a half year harvest worth 50 million euros was destroyed. It is all the more important that the harvest from this year is not lost. Because despite the destruction in the valley, around 90 to 95 percent of the vines in the steep slopes have been preserved.
“The winemakers are working flat out to save the vineyards, but the pressure from the fungus is enormous,” says Schubert.
The fact that injections are expected to start again on Thursday relieves some of the pressure.
In addition, the leaves would also have to be removed from the vines.
The winemakers in the Ahr Valley receive support from winemaking teams from other regions.
The winemakers are also looking for voluntary, unskilled workers to help.
Even if the grapes can be saved, the winemakers face the next problem at harvest.
“Grape presses, apparatus for pressing, filling and corking machines have been completely destroyed on many goods,” says Schubert.
Multi-risk insurance is too expensive for farmers
The Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner (CDU) assured the farmers that they too would be taken into account in the emergency aid from the federal and state governments of 400 million euros.
In order to secure the liquidity of the farms, the Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank also offers loans on particularly favorable terms.
In the case of existing promotional loans, affected farmers can suspend repayment.
They are urgently dependent on government aid and donations, says RLV President Conzen.
He expects that many of his professional colleagues are not adequately insured against the damage.
But that's not because farmers are careless.
"In Germany there is indeed multiple-risk insurance in agriculture - but our farms cannot manage this financially on their own."
The drought of the past three years would have cost farmers a lot of substance, and it can be assumed that fluctuations in yields will continue to increase due to climate change. Conzen is therefore calling for an insurance solution for extreme weather conditions that is subsidized by the state. The demand is neither new nor is it alone with it. The Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV) has also been advocating funding such as that available in France, Spain and Austria for years.