Blogs and advice from Industry leading Specialists
Valuable Opinions, Comments & Gossip
Financial related News & Articles relating to Spain
Latest News, Stories
& Hot Topics
Various Tools & Widgets to help with your financial needs
Tools & Widgets to
help with finances
Polls, Surveys and Opinions featured throughout Tumbit
Featured Polls, Surveys & Stats
Discussions, Advice & Topical Chat
Discussions, Advice & Topical Chat

Spanish farmers demand EU aid as vital to survival

Source: Reuters - Tue 1st Jun 2010

Thousands of hot and noisy farmers rallied outside a gathering of EU ministers on Tuesday to demand continued subsidies and regulatory support they said was vital to the survival of the farming industry.

Members of four leading farmers' unions from across Spain, wearing straw hats under the 37-degree sun, shouted from behind police barricades as ministers met to discuss the future of the common agricultural policy (CAP), which has an annual budget of 50 billion euros and is due for reform in 2013.

At stake in the CAP talks, the farmers said, is a strategic sector that guarantees food supplies for 500 million people, employs 12 million farmers and 30 million people in the food industry and costs the average European 2 euros a week. While France supports strong regulation of agricultural markets, Britain is arguing for a shift in spending, citing tight public finances and other priorities such as climate change.

Ricardo Serra, vice president of Spain's biggest farmers' union, Asaja, said that without subsidies European farmers would have to compete on unequal terms with producers from outside the region.

"We compete with third world countries that do not comply with a series of rules, while we do - on environmental, social and labour issues," Serra said on the sidelines of the demonstration in Merida, in the Spanish rural heartland region of Extremadura.

"If we want a live and active farm sector, we have to have a suitable budget," he said. "They either give us some sort of support, or the sector will simply be dismantled."


In an open letter to EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, Asaja said European farmers were struggling to survive on income that had not risen since 1993.

"We demand that the new CAP should entail mechanisms to regulate markets to avoid selling at a loss, and to end unfair food imports," it said.

Farmers were also angry that the Spanish government had not done more to address a collapse in farm-gate prices since they met with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in December.

"We often sell fruit at 10% of the price in shops. But talks have been spun out in a series of endless meetings and absolutely nothing has been done," Serra said.

A large balloon floating above the demonstrators carried the slogan "Zapatero, cheat!", and farmers called for his resignation.


Farmers say their sector may not be sustainable because the rural workforce is ageing. Serra estimated that just 4 percent of farm workers in southern region Andalusia were under 35.

Catalina Garcia, 36, said she had been growing vines and grain for 10 years in Extremadura but doubted she could continue without support, either in subsidies or agreements with retailers over prices paid to producers.

"I'm here because my future is at stake. The last two to three years have been the worst. Prices have collapsed to below the cost of production," she said.

Spanish grain traders' group Accoe estimates soft wheat prices in Spain have fallen by 42.3 percent since January 2008.

"We young people who don't want to leave farming have got to keep on fighting," she added.

Comment on this Story

Be the first to comment on this Story !!

Recommended Items

Related Articles

Related Blogs