France will publish new rules in coming days to spur development of water storage by farms after a spring drought last year that hurt crop and livestock production, Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
The governmental decree will also seek to prevent water- storage projects for agriculture from being held up by court challenges, Le Maire said at a press conference today at the World Water Forum in Marseille, southern France.
Last year’s drought caused an estimated 242 million euros ($317 million) in losses for grassland and pasture, France’s committee for agricultural risk management said in December. The agriculture ministry in November announced plans to create 40 million cubic meters (1.4 billion cubic feet) of additional water storage for farm use.
“We want to simplify the rules,” Le Maire said. “Farmers’ anger is legitimate when they can’t develop” these projects, he said.
At the conference, Le Maire called for farmers, the biggest users of water worldwide, to use the resource more efficiently amid growing scarcity. French farmers shouldn’t be charged more for water, and should be encouraged to refrain from growing crops that require a lot of water in areas where drought occurs regularly, the minister said.
“Making farmers pay more for water is not the solution,” he said. “They need to be encouraged to use water more efficiently, to store it during the winter and not to grow crops in dry regions that require a lot of water.”
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