Spanish and Irish Farmers Protest Cartel Supermarkets and EU Free Trade Deals
Feb. 19, 2020 (EIRNS)—Thousands of farmers caused road blockades and traffic jams yesterday in the two Spanish provinces of Extremadura and Andalusia, protesting against price dumping practices of the big food store chains, and against the EU free trade deals with countries that pose low-price competition to European farmers.
Prices that farmers receive for oranges, for instance, are maximally €20 cents per kilogram, which is below farmers’ production cost. These practices have eroded farming, with 700,000 jobs lost in Spain in 30 years. In large areas of Andalusia for instance, traditional family farms have been replaced by greenhouse conglomerates that reduce production costs by hiring cheap and partially even illegal laborers from North Africa—resembling the infamous maquiladoras of Mexico.
EU Commission plans to cut the Common Agricultural Program budget by 14%—ostensibly to compensate for the loss of the U.K. paying into the budget, have also ignited the ire of farmers in Ireland. Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President Tim Cullinan said that the leaked proposal of European Council President Charles Michel would be a huge blow for Irish farmers. “This proposal contains a significant cut in the CAP budget and it would be a devastating blow for Irish farmers and rural Ireland and must be rejected,” he said. Farmers see a tragedy unfolding with these cuts and with the negative effects of the EU Commission’s plans to have free trade with Mercosur, Canada and the U.S., they also fear, as a letter to the editor of Agriland journal charged, that “rural Ireland will be back to the days of the landlords—inside 40 years. Is this all because farmers have been side-tracked to become production units and profit-centers for the likes of processors and supermarkets—the modern-day landlords?”