Spanish farmers look set to join tractor protests

Spain prepares fot farmer protest

Image of a Belgiantractor protest. Credit: Alexandros Michailidis/

The upheaval caused by tractor protests in France could soon be followed by Spanish farmers, as they too are preparing to join their European counterparts in widespread demonstrations.

On a significant note, Juan Jose Alvarez, Director of Institutional Relations at Asaja, has confirmed plans to set a date for mobilisations this Thursday, February 1.

These developments follow the wave of protests in France, where farmers have notably blocked numerous highways and impeded access to Paris in recent hours.

Regional focus in initial phase

Asaja, COAG, and UPA, prominent agricultural organizations in Spain, are currently in talks to organise demonstrations.

According to COAG sources, these protests will initially focus on regional levels, in contrast to the national efforts seen in France.

Historically, Spanish agricultural movements have often culminated in large-scale protests in Madrid, with past events seeing parades of tractors and animals through La Castellana.

Alvarez has publicly criticised the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for increasing bureaucracy. However, he rejects the statements of the French authorities attributing ‘unfair competition’ to agri-food products from countries such as Italy and Spain.

Demands and pre-electoral tensions

The imminent meeting between the heads of Asaja, COAG, and UPA aims to discuss demands and gauge the response of public administrations. While open to negotiation, these organisations are also mindful of the broader European context, with the European Parliament elections set from June 6 to 9.

The European Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen, recently initiated a ‘Strategic Dialogue’ with farmers. Sources acknowledge this as a belated move but agree on the need to reconsider policies such as the European Green Deal to protect medium and small farmers.

Tractor protests sweep across Europe

Why are farmers and livestock farmers from across Europe driving their tractors onto the streets and highways? These widespread protests are a culmination of various local and broader European issues.

In Germany, the government led by Olof Scholz has cut budgets, leading to the end of subsidies for agricultural diesel. This event took place recently, stirring discontent among farmers.

Across the border in France, the government had to backtrack on increasing taxes on agricultural diesel and offered compensation to livestock farmers, following uproar over issues related to pricing and escalating production costs that rendered farming unprofitable.

European policies at the heart of discontent

Beyond these national issues, there’s a collective discontent towards the European Green Deal and the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2023-2027.

Farmers associate these with increased ‘green’ conditions — 23 per cent of aid is contingent on adopting certain sustainable practices — and greater bureaucratic hurdles, feeling excluded from the decision-making process.

Additionally, they have criticised the inconsistency between trade policies and the demands placed on local producers, pointing to ‘green conditionality’, labour rights, and the so-called ‘unfair competition’ from non-EU imports from countries like Morocco, Egypt, and Turkey.

This tension has deepened the rift between environmentalists and the agricultural sector.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • mac

      01 February 2024 • 05:28

      Good luck to all farmers involved in these strikes. We need farmers, they work incredibly hard and sometimes for little reward. The EU leaders behind the CAP are unelected officials who are chasing their NET ZERO SCAM. They must not be allowed to destroy the farms because that will absolutely lead to food shortages and that it the NET ZERO ZEALOTS PLAN. Do not allow these crazy people to win, support all the farmers wherever they are because if you don´t these zealots will be coming for you next.

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