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Swiss authorities look to help farmers after ‘frost of the century' wiped out crops

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Swiss authorities look to help farmers after ‘frost of the century' wiped out crops
Photo: elenathewise/Depositphotos
09:24 CEST+02:00
Cantonal authorities across the country are examining ways to help fruit farmers and winegrowers after the unexpected frost that hit Switzerland at the end of April caused unprecedented damage.
After a warm first half of April, which caused vines and trees to begin flowering, temperatures in Switzerland plummeted in the second half of the month, with the mercury falling below zero for several nights in a row. 
 
And now the full extent of the damage is becoming known.
 
In the canton of Aargau this “frost of the century” caused damage to fruit trees and vines on a scale never seen before, its finance director told the media on Thursday. 
 
Markus Dieth said the cantonal government now wants to help out affected farmers and winegrowers after the frost caused 30 million francs of damage in the canton, threatening the livelihood of many. 
 
The extent of the damage varied throughout the canton, but overall more than 85 percent of buds on fruit trees were wiped out and 60 percent of flowering vines.
 
In some areas the entire year's harvest was destroyed, he said.
 
Interest-free loans and payment holidays on existing loans will be made available to help those affected, he said.
 
The canton of Basel-Land was also severely affected, losing its entire crop of cherries and plums and registering 19 million francs of damage.
 
Authorities in the canton of Valais – where 550 hectares of vines were reportedly damaged on the first night of frost alone – have set up a working group to help and advise farmers, for whom interest-free loans will also be made available.
 
In the canton of Geneva, over 63 percent of vineyards and 76 percent of orchards were damaged, with harvests expected to be severely reduced this year.
 
The cantonal government on Wednesday adopted an action plan to offer financial help to affected farmers, including emergency loans and staggered repayments, said 20 Minutes.
 
There is no insurance available that covers farmers for frost damage.

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