Hard hit by the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, wine growers will benefit from 76 million euros in additional aid, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Wednesday (August 5th) during a visit to Sancerre.
After the 170 million euros granted in May, the government therefore inflated the envelope by 76 million to bring it to 246 in total, which the Prime Minister advantageously rounded up to 250 in front of the press. “I asked that this aid can be distributed as quickly as possible, because the cash requirements are strong”, added the Prime Minister.
Mr. Castex specified that this aid would be intended to improve the storage of surpluses and increase the distillation of unsold products. In detail, the additional envelope should be used to strengthen aid for distillation (+ 56 million, 211 million in total) and the storage of surpluses (+ 20 million, 35 million in total). “In all cases, we obviously made the choice to allow these companies to get through this crisis in the best possible conditions”, assured Mr. Castex, who had just discussed with local professionals at the Maison des vins de Sancerre.
“The quality, the quality, the quality”
The Prime Minister had previously visited another area of the Cher, on an organic farm in Menetou-Salon. “Quality, quality, quality, this is the spearhead of our viticulture, we must encourage quality”, he pleaded. “We must encourage sector policies to prepare for this environmental transition”, also underlined Mr. Castex by promising a “State support”.
In total, winegrowers estimate that the health crisis has created a shortfall of at least 1.5 billion euros due to the shutdown of bars, restaurants, festive gatherings and tourism. In addition to the crisis linked to the new coronavirus, there is also the effect of the US sanctions pronounced in October 2019 on wines below 14 ° (excluding sparkling wines), in retaliation for a trade dispute between Airbus and Boeing. Since that date, any bottle of Bordeaux, Burgundy or Provence rosé has been taxed at 25% when entering the North American market.
According to representatives of the sector, the French wine industry required a doubling of the aid granted so far (European and national), or 350 million euros in total, to cope with the crisis.
“A relief for the industry”
This boost “Is a relief for the wine industry”reacted Jérôme Despey, secretary general of the FNSEA and winegrower in the Hérault. “I regret, however, that this aid of 246 million euros takes part of the European budget devoted to viticulture”, he stressed, however, calling for the use of community funds to “Structuring measures for winegrowers rather than for crisis management measures”. According to Mr. Despey, 119 million euros come from French state credits, and 127 million are taken “On the European wine budget”.
The distillation system, authorized by Brussels and financed with European funds, subsidizes the transformation of unsold wines into alcohol which will be used in the manufacture of bioethanol, perfumes or hydroalcoholic gel.
It will therefore be some 2.6 million hectoliters that could be processed, said the Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie. The winegrowers were asking for enough to distill from 3 to 3.5 million hectoliters to make room for the next harvest which has started in certain regions of the South and will start three weeks in advance, at the end of August, in Menetou. -Living room.
Mr Denormandie, who was then on his way to a drought-stricken grain farm, also announced that the employer exemptions scheme for casual workers would be extended by one year. It was to end at 1er January 2021 as it benefits sectors with extensive labor needs, including fruit and vegetables as well as viticulture.