With sales falling and overproduction a problem, the French government is to spend almost 70 million euros to help the country’s wine industry. The financial aid package was announced by Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau after talks with wine growers representatives.
He said there will be 40 million euros of preferential loans to producers with heavy debts so they can reschedule their payments. Another 15 million in low interest loans will go to wine cooperatives which make up the majority of French producers. Three and a half million will be spent promoting French wine abroad. France produces 58.7 million hectolitres of wine annually. Grapes are grown in 144,000 locations and the industry employs 240,000 full time workers and 36,000 seasonally. To address overproduction some vines will be destroyed in areas where all growers agree and 500 vintners will be encouraged to retire early. They are suffering from falling consumption in France, which accounts for 70% of sales. That is due to strict restrictions on advertising and tough drink-driving laws. There is also increasing competition in export markets from new world wines. The growers say the French government aid is less than they had been hoping for.