August 6, 2018 / 2:24 PM / 13 days ago

Swiss draw up aid package for drought-hit farmers

ZURICH, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Switzerland will cut import tariffs on animal feed and offer interest-free loans to help farmers deal with a heat wave and drought, the federal government said on Monday.

“The persistent drought puts agriculture in a difficult situation in various areas,” it said, adding its measures would complement steps taken by individual cantons.

The tariff on imported roughage like hay and silo maize will be brought down to zero from three Swiss francs per 100 kg, a spokesman for the federal agriculture agency said.

He said it was unclear at this stage what the measures would ultimately cost.

Although domestic hay harvesting has been good in most locations, persistent drought in some regions has led to supply shortages that can be offset only in part from domestic sources, it said.

“Tariff reductions partly compensate for the rise in import prices and are therefore intended to benefit farmers,” it added.

“The greatest difficulty for farmers concerned is the maintenance of liquidity and the general improvement of the operating situation. A repayable, interest-free operating loan can help here,” it said. (Reporting by Michael Shields Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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