Farmers win compensation for cold wave

Government allocates extra NIS 115 million to help offset damages to produce.

plants agriculture 224.8 (photo credit: Courtesy)
plants agriculture 224.8
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Farmers whose produce was damaged by the recent cold wave will be compensated by the government, Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On said Thursday. Bar-On and Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon agreed on an emergency plan that will partially cover the farmers' losses. The main agricultural insurance policy also partially covers their losses. The damage from the cold weather in January was estimated at NIS 540 million, including damages caused to insured farmers and those who were not insured. Under the terms of the compensation plan, the government fund for damages from natural disasters will pay out NIS 325m. to compensate farmers for damages due to bad weather. In addition, the government has agreed to allocate an extra NIS 115m. to complement the compensation package. Farmers who insured their crops will receive extra compensation for 20% of their losses under the government plan. But farmers who did not insure their crops will only be covered for an extra 10% of their damages. The Israel Farmers Association welcomed the government's response to the farmers' plight, but said it had discriminated against farmers who did not insure their crops. Bar-On and Simhon also agreed to establish a credit fund, in cooperation with the business sector, which will provide loans at preferable conditions for farmers who suffered damage from the cold weather. The government will allocate NIS 35m. for this purpose, Bar-On said. Meanwhile, the Moshav Movement lowered export expectations for agriculture produce from the original forecast of NIS 4.8 billion for this year to NIS 3b., mainly due to the damages caused by the cold, global market conditions, the strength of the shekel against major currencies and the increase in water prices. Damage resulting from the cold was estimated at NIS 1.1b., while the rise in water prices will increase costs by NIS 50m., the Moshav Movement said. Eitan Ben-David, head of the Moshav Movement, said agricultural exporters would incur losses of more than NIS 800m., because agriculture produce designated for exports was expected to be worth NIS 3.8b Last month, the government came under pressure from farmers to declare a natural disaster after freezing overnight temperatures damaged crops across the country. Failure to declare an emergency would result in a significant rise in food prices, the farmers warned.