German farmers blame climate change for third year of poor harvest
Poor weather conditions are hurting German farmers’ harvests for the third year in a row, Der Spiegel reports. A long dry season this spring was the primary reason for the damage, after a wet autumn in 2019 had already made it harder to sow cereals. The report also points to wide variations between different regions. "Even within a municipality, it has happened that yields have fluctuated by up to 40 percent," German Farmers’ Association (DBV) President Joachim Rukwied said. "We have to recognise as farmers that climate change manifests itself," Rukwied said, adding that crop yields are no longer as stable as they were 10 or 15 years ago. He called for a new insurance system to be set up to manage increasing risks, which would require 400 million to 500 million euros in startup funding from federal and state governments, according to the article.
Even increased rainfall this year has not put an end to the effects of prolonged droughts and extreme heatwaves recorded by Germany and many other European countries in 2018 and 2019. Environment minister Svenja Schulze has proposed a “national water strategy,” setting out new regulations and prioritising certain types of consumption. The German government has already earmarked hundreds of millions of euros to help struggling farmers cope with harvest losses and to adapt the country's forests to changing weather patterns, though researchers doubt that Germany's ecosystems will be able to avoid fundamental change due to climate change.