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Thomas Le Bot, EARL Le Bot:

Major damage to Brittany farms after Storm Ciaran

Thomas le Bot of EARL Le Bot gives an update on the damage to farms in Plougastel after storm Ciaran hit Brittany on the night of November 2nd to 3rd. Last Wednesday, Plougastel producers met with their municipality to begin the process of taking stock of the damage and compiling compensation claims.

“100% of the farms affected”
Strawberry producer Thomas Le Bot reports very little damage to his own farm “thanks to the renovation work carried out 5 years ago and the installation of multi-hood plastic greenhouses.” However, all farms in the municipality have been affected to varying degrees. The most significant damage concerns the glass greenhouses, which are broken, and the plastic tunnels, which have been completely bent. On the Plougastel farm, wind gusts of 175 km per hour were recorded.”

“Greenhouse producers, vegetable growers, nurserymen, and horticulturists have been hit hard, with greenhouses and tunnels destroyed, and existing and future crops impacted, causing considerable damage to businesses. These findings are widespread throughout the Finistère and Côtes d'Armor departments and more localized in other areas of Brittany,” according to the Brittany Chamber of Agriculture.

Time to take stock and submit files
Like all other towns in the area, the municipality of Plougastel is currently “taking stock of the damage in order to submit reports to the French Ministry of Agriculture. We are going to put together a joint file for the Plougastel and surrounding municipalities with the support of the Brittany region. We are fortunate to have a mayor who supports us and wants to get things done quickly in order to allow planting to proceed as scheduled at the end of November. Some farmers are not insured for their tunnels, so the agricultural disaster plan is a necessity.”

Lack of materials?
“We have counted almost 23,000 broken tiles in glass greenhouses, which is the equivalent of 23 semi-trailers of glass tiles. For the repair work, there is now concern about the availability of materials, mainly glass. The entire manufacturing process is currently right on schedule. “Fortunately, greenhouse builders are making it a priority to send assembly teams to the affected operators. Dutch crews are already on site to restore the damage.”

Impact on the 2024 harvest
This situation “is bound to have an impact on the next harvest,” explains Thomas Le Bot. “By the time all the damage has been repaired, some people will be planting late. There will inevitably be less fruit and vegetables in production since there will be fewer surface areas planted. But farmers are going to help each other out, and we are all going to roll up our sleeves. Next year will certainly be a year of transition before returning to normality for the 2025 campaign.” Regarding the situation on the market, Plougastel strawberries are a product in great demand, so we must not allow the lower supply to push prices upwards.”

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