Spanish Farmers Continue Protests, Possible Gains Won
Feb. 26, 2020 (EIRNS)—Farmers of Spain went into their fourth consecutive week of protest actions on Feb. 24. Thousands of them took to the streets in Murcia, Tarragona, Guadalajara, and Merida. In the region of Murcia alone, which is a leading producer of fruits and vegetables, 7,000 farmers took part with about 400 tractors, with their regional association chairman Miguel Padilla speaking of farmers’ “cry of despair” over the widening gap between their expenses and incomes. Farmers consider themselves victims of the globalized food markets, which flood fruits and vegetables into Europe at low prices which local farmers, and especially those from Spain, cannot compete with: Spain has been the leading producer of fruits and vegetables for all of Europe.
In the city of Tortosa (Tarragona region) and in Molina de Aragon (Guadalajara region), farmers deployed about 200 tractors in each region in protest rallies, with temporary road blockades in the Guadalajara event. Protests are not generally supported by the official farm association, but, as in the Extremadura region, for instance, organized by independent groups like Aseprex, La Union and Agrocoltores del Jerte. Protesting farmers are particularly upset at the fact that numerous meetings with political leaders have so far not yielded a single euro of financial support from the national and regional governments. Protests may therefore continue beyond mid-March.
That is how matters stood—until the government, under Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party of Spain (PSOE), approved a series of measures to ensure increased prices, allowing farmers to avoid selling their produce at a loss, and for better working conditions for protesting farmers, Emma Pinedo of Reuters reported today.
Under the proposed law, sales contracts would be indexed to production costs, ensuring that farmers do not have to sell at a loss, Agriculture Minister Luis Planas announced after the weekly cabinet meeting; the new measures aim to give farmers and ranchers more power in negotiations with supermarkets and distributors. The bill would allow retailers to sell below the production cost only if the expiration of a perishable product were close, but prohibits retailers from passing the loss on to the farmer.
“The government believes it is possible that prices don’t rise [for the consumer] and at the same time the farmers get a fairer price for their products,” Planas said.