Saturday, February 24

The eternal struggle of the field remains unanswered

Protesters in Madrid. / Eph

Farmers and ranchers have been protesting low prices since 2019, which led to the reform of the Food Chain Law, but they denounce that it remains unfulfilled

Edurne Martinez

Before the pandemic broke out, the field was up for a fight. They protested under the slogan ‘Farmers to the Limit’ against precariousness, the low prices at which they had to sell their products that made the activity of many of them unsustainable, and the lack of control of imports from third countries. But the global health crisis disrupted all their plans and the mobilizations stopped.

Those protests led to the reform of the Food Chain Law (in force since 2013), with the aim of prohibiting selling at a loss, that is, charging less than what has been paid for production. The standard seeks a fairer relationship between producers, industry and distributors. According to the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, this law is “the most important for the agri-food sector of this legislature” and with its reform the Government responded to the greatest demand raised by the agricultural associations that had been calling mobilizations throughout Spain since 2019 Even so, the organizations of farmers and ranchers denounce that it is not being fulfilled and that the situation continues to be unsustainable, and that is why the protests are now being resumed.

Tens of thousands of people take Madrid to defend the rural world

The irrigators have warned that the increase in light threatens the survival of many crops. From Fenacore they demand a reduced VAT of 10% for the supply of energy to irrigation, which would reduce the electricity bill of farmers by 30%.

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In an interview with this newspaper, Planas claims to “understand the discomfort” of the field, whose situation has also worsened in recent weeks due to price increases. He explains that the problem is “difficult” because we are facing the challenge of moving towards “sustainable food systems”. In his opinion, the underlying feeling is that “the rural world wants to be heard since they were essential in the hardest moments of the pandemic.”

Less taxes or temporary contracts, the demands of the field

Minister Planas assures that the sector is in a good moment, within the difficulties that the entire economy is going through. “We exceeded 60,000 million euros in exports, with a positive trade balance of 19,000 million,” he detailed this week. Even so, he acknowledged that the increase in the prices of fertilizers, feed and, above all, energy is a “concern” in the sector that is trying to “not be left behind” and be a “protagonist” in the new post-pandemic stage.

However, the protesters assure that the government’s policies are “ineffective” because “they turn their backs on those who work every day to fill the refrigerators of all Spaniards and to take care of an environment that we all need and that we all enjoy” , point out from the Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA).

This Monday the European ministers of agriculture meet in Brussels to discuss how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can respond to the current challenges after the invasion of Ukraine. Among others, topics such as the possibility of temporarily relaxing the conditions of compulsory crop rotations, using fallow land or areas of ecological interest will be addressed. From this meeting, Minister Planas hopes to obtain “a good economic endowment” for Spain of the 500 million euros that will be mobilized.

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Less taxes and more financing to face the drought

The Council of Ministers approved last Tuesday a royal decree with fiscal and labor measures to alleviate the situation of farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. Among the most outstanding, the 20% reduction in the modules for which they declare the IRPF, the exemption from the payment of the IBI for the farms that have seen their yields decrease or an ICO line of credits endowed with 10 million euros.

It also allows the reduction of the minimum number of quoted days from 35 to 20 hours so that temporary workers in the sector of Andalusia or Extremadura can avail themselves of the unemployment subsidy or agricultural income.

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