Farmers north of Europe are confronting a widespread drought that could see them having to send much of their herds to slaughter due to feed shortage.
Jean-Guillaume Hannequin, a farmer in eastern France, who like his counterparts across northern Europe is wondering how he will feed his animals this winter.
“Our cows have been living off hay cut in June, there isn’t any grass,” he said.
Mediterranean countries long ago adapted their farming practices to little rain.
In Sweden, where swathes of territory were burned by wildfires this summer as the country baked under century-high temperatures, the grain harvest is expected to be down around 30 percent and it is unclear whether recent cooler temperatures will allow farmers to take in more hay.
“The feed shortage will be felt this coming winter,” Harald Svensson, chief economist for the Swedish Board of Agriculture, said, explaining that “most farmers have relied on their winter feed reserves during the drought this summer.”
The situation is similar in Germany, where officials say one in 25 farms is at risk of going out of business.
In Lower Saxony, a key region for growing fodder crops, the harvest is expected to be more than 40 percent down from normal years.
In the Netherlands, the deficit for fodder is estimated to be 40 to 60 percent, according to the agricultural association, with the deficit for grain at 20 percent.
The English countryside is far from its normal undulating green this year, having not seen a drought like this in 80 years, according to the official Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
Milk production is down sharply due to a lack of hay.
In France, “the east has been suffering since the beginning of July, and the rest of the country since August with an extended heatwave,” said Patrick Benezit of the FNSEA umbrella group of French farmers’ unions.