Frost deals a blow to French farmers

Alexandre Pele's sugar beet farm south of Paris should be flourishing.

Instead, he's digging out frozen shoots killed by last week's historically low temperatures.

"Basically, I sowed 11 beets per 1 square meter, and today, what I have counted, I have between zero and 3 beets per square meter. At this rate, I have to destroy the plot and replant the beets again."

Pele is now facing a loss of 18,000 euros- or more than $21,000 this year.

He has been a farmer for 20 years and said he's never seen weather this extreme.

Successive cold snaps in the past week have destroyed between 30,000 and 50,000 hectares of French sugar beet, growers group CGB said on Monday, calling it the worst frost-related losses for the sector ever recorded.

Sugar beet plantings had already been expected to fall this year after pest attacks last year caused jaundice to ravage crops, as well as farmers cuttting back in recent years due to weak sugar prices.

Pele estimates that he will suffer about a 50 percent loss in sugar beet production this year.

But despite the difficulties, he doesn't regret his choices.

"Each day is never the same, we have to adapt to climate change, we have to adapt to our environment, but also society's demands, therefore, it's a daily job, and a job that we have to reassess everyday but at the same time, there is a certain pride in being a farmer in France today."

Video Transcript

- Alexander Pele's sugar beet farms South of Paris should be flourishing. Instead, he's digging out frozen shoots killed by last week's historically low temperatures.

INTERPRETER: Basically, I sowed 11 beets per 1 square meter. And today, what I have counted, I have between 0 and 3 beets per square meter. At this rate, I'll have to destroy the plot and replant the beets again.

- Pele is now facing a loss of 18,000 euros, or more than $21,000, this year. He has been a farmer for 20 years and said he's never seen weather this extreme. Successive cold snaps in the past week have destroyed between 30,000 and 50,000 hectares of French sugar beet, growers group CGB said on Monday, calling it the worst frost-related losses for the sector ever recorded.

Sugar beet plantings had already been expected to fall this year after pest attacks last year caused jaundice to ravage crops, as well as farmers cutting back in recent years due to weak sugar prices. Pele estimates that he will suffer about a 50% loss in sugar beet production this year. But despite the difficulties, he doesn't regret his choices.

ALEXANDER PELE: [SPEAKING FRENCH]

INTERPRETER: Each day is never the same. We have to adapt to climate change, we have to adapt to our environment, but also society's demands. Therefore, it's a daily job and a job that we have to reassess every day. But at the same time, there's a certain pride in being a farmer in France today.