Farmers’ union seeks compensation as drought is declared ‘exceptional’


In West Flanders, 90% of municipalities suffered damage as a result of very dry weather in the first half of the year, and the farmers’ union has asked the agriculture minister to clarify farmers’ rights

Very low rainfall

The Royal Meteorological Institute (KMI) has classified the dry weather of the first half of this year as “exceptional”, meaning farmers should be able to claim compensation from the Agricultural Disaster Fund, the farmers’ union Boerenbond has announced.

The KMI compared rainfall figures for the past 20 years and showed that this year’s rainfall was exceptionally low in 150 Flemish municipalities. Previously, the KMI had said the period from the beginning of May to 15 June was not exceptionally dry, but Boerenbond asked Flemish agriculture minister Joke Schauvliege to look at the wider context of the longer period from 1 April to 30 June. 

West Flanders was the worst affected, with nine out of 10 municipalities suffering damage. In East Flanders seven out of 10 were affected, while in other provinces the damage was less: 26 municipalities in Flemish Brabant, 13 in Limburg and nine in Antwerp province.

“The KMI’s advice is an important first step in recognising an agricultural disaster,” Boerenbond said in a statement. “We are now asking the minister to work rapidly to take the next steps in recognition, so that the situation of our farmers and growers becomes clear.” 

The impact of the drought will now be considered by municipal evaluation committees. To be recognised as a disaster, the total damage needs to be higher than €1.24 million, with the average of each individual claim at least €5,580.

Photo courtesy VILT