"We will feel the consequences until Christmas"

Since a couple of days, the drought in large parts of Flanders is coming close to the historically dry summer of 1976. Farmers' crops have been seriously damaged. The farmers are the first to be hit, but in the longer run consumers will also feel the consequences. 

It's eight weeks since we had some decent rain. "The situation is worst in western parts of the country. We haven't seen a drop of rain here over the past month," explains the VRT's weather presenter Frank Deboosere.  

Losses for farmers will be enormous, depending on the type of vegetable they are growing. The situation is worst in large parts of West and East Flanders. "It's too early for a concrete figure, but this will be felt until Christmas", says Nele Cattoor of Vegebe, the federation of vegetable-processing businesses.  Among the vegetables which are most hit, are spinach, peas and potatoes.  Many potatoes are also too small to make potato chips. 

It will be felt by farmers in the first place, but also by consumers in the longer run

The drought also has an impact on vegetables which would be normally be harvested in late summer or autumn. Because of the dry lands, the seeds simply can't be planted. "We are talking about beans, spinach and the second cauliflower season here", says Cattoor. This is why the impact of the present weather conditions will be felt until Christmas, but on the producer and the consumer side.  

All this is bound to have an effect on prices, though the exact impact is not yet clear. The weather is expected to change as from Tuesday, as western winds will bring cooler weather and (possibly) rain. 

The farmers' union Boerenbond wants the government to recognise the drought as a natural disaster, which would mean they can claim benefits as a compensation. "We've reached a point where a couple of showers are not enough to restore things, because the damage has become irreversible." 

The weather is expected to change next week

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