Germany considering aid for livestock farms after drought

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s government is considering special aid for livestock farmers to help them overcome a sharp rise in animal feed prices after this summer’s drought, German agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Dried out farmland is seen near Geinsheim, Germany, July 30, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

“In many regions we are suffering from a massive shortage of animal feed,” Kloeckner said at a press conference.

Some individual farmers have been compelled to reduce costs by sending animals to slaughter earlier than planned, she said.

Kloeckner has asked German regional state governments to consider short-term methods of helping cattle and pig farmers, and Germany’s federal government is ready to provide finance to support local help.

Germany is among north European countries suffering serious crop damage after this summer’s heatwave. German crops wilted under the highest May temperatures since 1881 and exceptionally dry weather in June and July.

Germany’s 2018 grains harvest will fall about 20 percent after crops suffered widespread damage from drought and hot weather, the association of German farmers DBV said on Wednesday.

EU benchmark wheat prices hit three-year highs in recent days because of worries about crop losses.

German farmers are seeking a 1 billion euro ($1.17 billion) special aid package to help them overcome the impact of the drought. But Kloeckner again said on Wednesday that she will await the agriculture ministry’s own harvest estimates in late August before making a decision on widespread aid to farmers.

Federal aid to farmers can only be provided in exceptional circumstances and for legal reasons very reliable evidence of damage is needed, she said.

Some German regional state governments are also considering special help for farmers.

The state government of Lower Saxony, home to some of Germany’s main pig and poultry farms, said it will allow producers of organic meat to use some types of feed from conventional non-organic production.

($1 = 0.8560 euros)

Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann and Michael Hogan, editing by Jan Harvey