France urges idled workers to head to the fields

PARIS (AFP) – French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume appealed yesterday for people laid off amid the coronavirus lockdown to help beleaguered crop and livestock farmers who are in need of labourers as summer approaches.

“There are 200,000 jobs possible across the agriculture sector today,” in large part because seasonal workers who usually come from Spain or Eastern Europe can no longer enter the country, Guillaume told BFM television.

Farmers said the need for able bodies is urgent as the first harvests loom for asparagus, strawberries and other early-season produce.

“I’m issuing a call to the women and men who are not working, who are confined to their homes, the waiter, the hotel receptionist, the barber in my neighbourhood, whose businesses are closed… and I ask them to join France’s great agricultural army,” he said.