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Spanish farmers face drought

Spanish farmers face drought 17 July 2017

Grapes shrivel as Spanish farmers lament a relentless drought (via The Guardian)

By Sam Jones

A taunting peal of thunder rings out overhead as Diego García de la Peña studies one of his ponds and wonders whether its water will see his cattle through until October.

The 65–year–old farmer – a former bullfighter who quotes Federico García Lorca and whose ancestors were among the legions of steely Extremadurans who bent the New World to their will – is a worried man.

The source of García de la Peña’s anxiety is imprinted on the landscape of his 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) ranch. Its pastures are dry and pale brown, their grasses short and brittle, and the water level in its 10 ponds is a metre lower than it would be in a good year.

But this is not a good year in Extremadura or elsewhere on the Iberian peninsula. Once again, drought has struck, devastating cereal crops, threatening the olive and grape harvest and leaving livestock short of food and water.

“This is an awful year – the worst we’ve had over the past decade – and it’s one of those that costs you a lot of money,” says García de la Peña. “There’s been no rain – and here, everything depends on the spring and autumn rains.”

His 400 cows may need to be given ready–mixed feed for eight or nine months rather than the usual five, and the water situation is another expensive headache. If the ponds run dry, García de la Peña will have to start sinking wells, around 100 metres deep, in his land. The wells cost €35 a metre to dig and then there are the solar–powered pumps to consider. All in all, he could find himself losing €30,000 (£26,347) this year as he tries to ride out the drought.

“I hope I can make it up next year. I hope I won’t go into the red, but it’s a possibility.”

Read more via The Guardian…