Warm winter, droughts destroying crops in Italy, farming lobby warns

ROME, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Unusually mild weather and droughts in Italy are destroying crops and threatening livelihoods this winter, Italy's main farming lobby Coldiretti said on Thursday.

The world has just experienced its hottest January on record, continuing a run of exceptional heat fuelled by climate change, according to data published by the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service on Thursday.

"A boiling winter is causing nature to crash," Coldiretti said in a statement, adding that some plants are blossoming too early and will be exposed to harm from any drop in temperatures.

The dry spell is also threatening to disrupt the sowing of cereals, legumes and vegetables, with effects on animal feed too, the lobby group said.

"Italy's agriculture is the part of the economy that, more than any other, experiences the consequences of climate change on a daily basis," Coldiretti said.

The farming lobby wants help for farmers forced to try to respond to the changing weather and its effects on crop cycles, water management and the land.

It called for the "commitment of the institutions to support innovation, from agriculture 5.0 with drones, robots and satellites to GMO-free green genetics".

Climate concerns, alongside low prices for produce, rising costs and cheap imports have led Italian farmers to join colleagues across Europe in organising mass protests to demand action by authorities.

As well as harming agriculture, a mild winter has left ski resorts in central Italy idle because of a lack of snow.

Winter has been exceptionally mild in other parts of southern Europe, with Spain seeing its warmest January on record, worsening a long-running drought in the regions of Catalonia and Andalusia.

(Reporting by Alessandro Parodi Editing by Keith Weir)

((Alessandro.Parodi@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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