Spain announces new measures to appease farmers, but protests set to continue

Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas announced a package of 18 new measures aimed at appeasing protesting farmers on Thursday, but the unions did not call off ongoing protests, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency. 

After around two weeks of consecutive demonstrations, union leaders met with Planas. Before the meeting, tractors and hundreds of farmers had surrounded the ministry in Madrid.

Planas said it was a positive meeting that “lays excellent fundamentals,” but unions said they were not convinced that the government has gone far enough.

One of the most significant new measures is the creation of a government agency that will inspect that agricultural laws are being enforced. For instance, the current law stipulates that farmers cannot sell their products below the cost of production, but in reality, distributors often give farmers little choice but to do so due to a lack of enforcement.

Spain will also make the so-called digital journal, where farmers are supposed to meticulously track their activities, voluntary instead of mandatory, he said.

Planas also said that Spain will reinforce the inspections of imported agricultural products to ensure they do not contain substances that are banned in the EU. Although that is also already the case, the minister said the controls will be tightened and products will be vetoed.

Spain will push the EU to change measures that are part of the Common Agriculture Policy but anger Spanish farmers, he told media.

Pedro Barato, the president of the union ASAJA, said some of the measures related to crop rotation, tilling and the relaxation of the rules around the digital journal and geo-located photos were “important steps forward.”

“Two years ago, we said we wouldn’t be able to comply with some new rules, like ‘how can I geolocate a photo if I don’t have cell phone coverage in an area?’” he told journalists. “Or ‘who will know more about crop rotation — farmers or the bureaucrats in Brussels?’”

However, he complained that the government still has not offered solutions to issues surrounding “diffuse pollution,” groundwater plans, unresolved government claims, and the land around rivers.

“What about the paperwork you need to do to access a well that sits on a desk for two years while the rules change in the meantime?” he asked.

He also said more government coordination is needed from other ministries.

Barato also demanded more financial aid to farmers, especially since costs have surged — from farm supplies to the cost of labor with minimum wage increases.

He said he will need to analyze the plan with farmers from across Spain before he can say whether it is satisfactory.

Miguel Padilla, the president of the Coag union, also said it is too early to say the meeting was a success.

The protests will also depend on upcoming meetings between farmers and regional governments, he said, while acknowledging that the new plan means “we can do things that we would have thought impossible before.”

News.Az 

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