European wine prices have steadily decreased, in some cases by half, in the last few years. The wine industry in Europe, especially France, is heavily subsidized. Under growing pressure from other countries, the EU is proposing to pay as much as €7,000 (Euros) per hectare between 2008 and 2013 to farmers willing to dig up their vines. Currently Europe has about 3.6 million hectares of vineyards. The EU wants to destroy 200,000 hectares. The EU commission plans to spend as much as €1 billion on the program that essentially removes farmers from the wine industry.
Many are violently opposed to the plan, some liking it to killing their child. Some vineyards have been in the family for many generations. The French agriculture minister described parts of the plan as “madness”. Last month a group wearing balaclavas broadcast on TV threats against the program. The group is known for terrorist activities such as planting bombs at public buildings and wineries.
The plan will encourage larger production facilities, at the expense of the smaller wineries. For many of the French, industrial wine is antithetical to their national heritage. Many fear in France that the other countries will fail to remove their vines, once the French dig up theirs.
Beginning in 2014, the EU will remove wine subsidies and compete in an open world market.
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