Cashing In On The Wrath Of Nature

A series of severe storms struck parts of Slovenia on Sunday, causing extensive damage to housing, crops and forests. It was the latest in a series of severe weather events which have – among other things – collapsed a scaffold in downtown Ljubljana the other day. In short: it’s fun, but don’t bring an umbrella. You might end up like Dorothy.

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photo: BOBO (source)

However, the real fun begins just now, when damage is being assessed all over the country. I’ve had some meagre experience covering this for various media houses and I can tell you that farmers immediately start exaggerating the numbers. The last time I was covering a natural catastrophe of similiar proportions, the numbers went from a fifty million tolars to a hundred billion in a matter of hours, which at that point meant some 12% of the country’s budget.

Today, we are observing a similar phenomenon: while the damage reports are still being compiled, numbers are increasing exponentially. In a single TV piece combined claims of up to 50 milion euros were made. I realize there was indeed some extensive damage and that people’s lives were shattered, but what I’m bothered by is the fact that everyone is paying attention to the damage in the woods and fields while almost nothing is being said about families whose houses have lost roofs and even suffered structural damage.

But they are probably insured, which cannot be said about farmers and their produce. As farmers are a special breed in Slovenia and enjoy protection not unlike their French counterparts, they expect the state to bail them out yet again. And so they beef up their damage reports, already feeling the fibre of the fabric of a fistful of euros.

And so we will see the usual Peasant Gambit: In the spring it’s usually frost. Damages are repaid. In the summer, storms and hail. Damages are repaid again. In autumn, floods. Guess what happens. And then, as the year’s end approaches, farmers are clammoring about what a quality product they have this year and that the market is being infested by low-cost produce from Albania, Macedonia, Spain and Greece and that they cannot compete with such low prices. And so the state bails them out again, buying their product off them for an above-market price. Just to keep them happy.

Hell, I’m in the wrong business…

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pengovsky

Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

13 thoughts on “Cashing In On The Wrath Of Nature”

  1. It’s weird to hear about Slovene farmers for me. I have only seen a few fields way over in east. Here there is nothing that looks like farming at all. So, what’s included in the term Slovene farmers? Is it also olive and wine producers?

  2. Oh yes… In fact, anyone with at least 4,5 hectares of land (either owned or rented), appropriate education and over 18 years of age can apply for a farmer’s license, and – consequently – farmer’s grants and subsidies.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tough job and someone’s got to do it, but I wonder how many other businesses were hit by the storms and there will be noone to bail them out.

  3. This is such a rare occasion that we agree on anything else besides MMM and FF, that I just have to comment. 😈 I totally agree with you!!!

    Farming is a tough job and we really DO need farmers, but the regulation we have now doesn’t stimulate them to actively seek ways to minimize nature-related damage. If primary source of money for the farmers are government subsidies, not farming, there must be something wrong.

    There were cases of people receiving subsidies for sheep, that never existed. Subsidies for the produce destroyed by the drought for third or fourth year in a row, yet no one cared to switch to a produce, less sensitive to water shortages.

    As you said it yourself. They are important, but farming is not the only business affected here. 🙁

  4. There were cases of people receiving subsidies for sheep, that never existed

    In all fairness, I think that was the case in Greece… 😉

    Also, I would go so far as to say that goverment subsidies are farmers’ primary source of income. i’ve no data to corroborate that.

    What bothers me is the fact that if one is a farmer one can afford not to insure crops and still get a full refund. Plus probably a little something on the side.

  5. i also heard that. in 04 we had a similair storm in sweden, but it mainly hit forest industry. And in that buisness, if you lose one generation of trees, things become tricky very quickly. We even had a little wave of suicides related to the whole thing..

  6. Well, if those redneck farmers get the subsidies, might as well have the weirdo alternative artists have some of “our” money, right? Right?

  7. :mrgreen: Point well made, but slightly off target. Subsidies are at this stage a fact of life and they have other, social effects as well. I’m not against subsidising farmers as such. What I am bothered about is that these subsidies are taken for granted and that farmers – by not insuring crops – do not protect their investment. And when distaster strikes, they expect the government to bail them out.

    To translate this to your artist analogy: an artist (say, a writer) receives a certain amount of money yearly so he/she may write one or two books. And then floods strike, destroying the nearly-finished manuscript. Do you think the government will pay for the damages? I think not.

    Again – it’s not the subsidies as such I’m worried about. It’s the fact that farmers take little or no steps to protect the product.

  8. ….Subsidies are at this stage a fact of life and they have other, social effects as well….

    Talking from personal experiences? 🙂

  9. Sadly, no… I don’t have a farm nor do I have a farmer’s license. True, occasionally do I have to deal with asses, mules, pigs, monkeys, lizards, sheep and the rest of the animal kingdom, but unfortunatelly that does not constitute a natural catastophe. Yet 😀

  10. Sadly, no… I don’t have a farm nor do I have a farmer’s license.
    One doesn’t need to be a farmer these get to get fat subsidies, does he?

    True, occasionally do I have to deal with asses, mules, pigs, monkeys, lizards, sheep and the rest of the animal kingdom, but unfortunatelly that does not constitute a natural catastophe.
    Yes, I know. Thus said it is really not my fault that you live in Ljubljana, is it, kulak? 🙂

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