PARIS (Reuters) - France will give financial aid to farmers who agree to halt use of glyphosate, the farm ministry said on Monday after President Macron said he had failed with efforts to ban use of the weedkiller by 2021.
Glyphosate, first developed by Bayer’s Monsanto under the Roundup brand, has generated intense global debate over its safety since a World Health Organization agency concluded in 2015 that it probably causes cancer.
While regulators worldwide have determined glyphosate to be safe, Bayer agreed in June to settle nearly 100,000 U.S. lawsuits for $10.9 billion, denying claims that Roundup caused cancer.
France will grant a temporary tax credit of 2,500 euros ($3,030) to farmers who declare in 2021 and/or in 2022 to have stopped use of glyphosate in the sectors most affected by a halt in the use of the weedkiller, such as wine, orchards and grain crops, the ministry said.
It also increased to 215 million euros planned financing to help farmers in the European Union’s top agricultural producer to change their agricultural equipment.
“The challenge is to put in place mechanisms to compensate for farmers’ costs due to the withdrawal (of) glyphosate, because today a farmer who invests to phase out glyphosate does not benefit from immediate value creation,” the ministry said in a statement.
Stopping the use of glyphosate on a grain farm leads to a loss in gross operating profit of up to 16%, which amounts to an extra cost of up to 80 euros per hectare, or up to 7,000 euros for an average farm of 87 hectares, the ministry said.
Last week Macron told online channel Brut that he had not changed his mind on the objective of ending use of glyphosate but recognised he had not succeeded in doing it within three years - a pledge he had made in 2017 - describing it as a collective failure.
France’s health and environment agency ANSES in October announced restrictions on glyphosate in farming, but stopped short of a full ban because of a lack of non-chemical alternatives in some areas.
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Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by David Goodman
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