High cost of warm Italian winter for agriculture: Farming union

Tourism is also suffering from the warm winter with lower levels of snowfall impacting mountain activities
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ROME: An unusually warm and dry winter in Italy could have a heavy impact on the country's agricultural and tourism sectors, according to the national farming union.

A research note released on Wednesday by Coldiretti said warm weather has been welcomed by energy policymakers, who were concerned that a long, cold winter could put further strain on energy networks already struggling with higher gas and oil prices, and supply concerns due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, reports Xinhua news agency.

 However, the union said that warm weather this winter has been particularly harmful coming in the wake of record-setting heat and drought over the summer, with 30 percent less rainfall than usual.

This has left natural water supplies dangerously low, and with lower-than-usual rainfall over the winter to restore them, crops will be at risk later this year.

The warm winter weather is prompting some crops, such as lemons, to bloom prematurely.

This means the crops are susceptible to damage from cold spells in the coming weeks that could "have serious effects on future harvests", it said.

Tourism is also suffering from the warm winter, Coldiretti said, with lower levels of snowfall impacting mountain activities.

The union estimates that the direct and indirect consequences of climate change have cost the country's agriculture sector 6 billion euros in 2022.

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