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Europe Braces for Serious Crop Losses and Blackouts

 LONDON -- One of the driest spring seasons on record in northern Europe has sucked soils dry and sharply reduced river levels to the point that governments are starting to fear crop losses and France, in particular, is bracing for blackouts as its river-cooled nuclear power plants may be forced to shut down.

French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire warned this week that the warmest and driest spring in half a century could slash wheat yields and might even push up world prices despite the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's predicting a bumper global crop due to greater plantings.

France has pledged hundreds of millions of euros in aid to its drought-stricken livestock farmers, who have watched feed supplies dwindle and prices rise. Water restrictions are in place in more than half of the country's administrative regions or departments.

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