Government proposals to support Spanish farmers

New reforms for Spanish farmers

Spanish farmers protest. Credit: upacyl/X

Can the Spanish government’s recent proposals turn the tide for the agricultural sector? In a significant move, Spain has rolled out an ambitious set of reforms aimed at placating the rising discontent among its arable and livestock farmers.

Is the government truly listening to the agricultural sector’s cries for help? Following intense negotiations, a package of 18 reforms has been introduced, aimed at addressing the grievances that have driven countless farmers to protest across Spain and Europe.

Recently, Agriculture Minister Luis Planas met with representatives from major agricultural organizations such as Asaja, COAG, and UPA. This meeting, held to address the recent widespread protests, resulted in the unveiling of a comprehensive strategy designed to alleviate the sector’s challenges, divided into seven key areas.

Strengthening the food chain law

The government’s first block of proposals focuses on enforcing the Food Chain Law more robustly. This includes establishing the State Food Information and Control Agency and enhancing coordination with autonomous communities.

Officials are set to develop official inspection plans and disclose the cumulative totals of serious and very serious sanctions. Additionally, there’s a proposal to the European Commission to revise directive 633/2019, underscoring the commitment to transparency and accountability.

Simplifying agricultural regulations

A significant aspect of the reforms is towards simplifying the regulatory burden on farmers. This includes appealing to the European Union to relax the conditions of the Common Agricultural Policy in 2024.

Notably, the repeal of certain crop rotation and non-productive area requirements in irrigated zones will ease the complexity of compliance.

Moreover, the proposal for administrative simplification and the expansion of ecoschemes recognises the unique challenges faced by farmers in arid regions.

Promoting fair trade practices

In the realm of commerce, the government pledges to defend the principle of reciprocity in phytosanitary standards at international forums, including the EU and the World Trade Organization.

Efforts to improve the Customs Union’s effectiveness and reorganize border inspections highlight a commitment to protecting domestic agriculture from unfair competition.

A proactive stance on setting the Maximum Residue Limit for unauthorised substances to zero underscores this protective approach.

Boosting agricultural insurance

Acknowledging the evolving climatic conditions, the Spanish government pledges to bolster the agricultural insurance system with a substantial budget of €284.5 million in 2024.

This investment aims to adapt insurance lines to better reflect new climatic realities, ensuring farmers and ranchers have adequate risk coverage.

Preserving agricultural diesel benefits

To alleviate the financial strain on farmers, the current incentives for agricultural diesel will be maintained, with effective rates significantly lower than the general rate.

Additionally, tax deductions for diesel, plastics, and fertilizers will continue through 2024, offering substantial relief in operational costs.

Fostering extensive livestock farming

The call for the Extensive Livestock Forum, set to take place in the first half of April, underscores a commitment to addressing the specific challenges faced by this sector. It represents an opportunity for dialogue and development of targeted support measures.

Supporting young farmers

Lastly, the initiative to facilitate the entry of young people into farming is critical for the sector’s future. Collaborating with financial entities and autonomous communities to provide subsidised and guaranteed credit solutions aims to lower the barriers to entry for the next generation of farmers.

Despite these measures, farmers have said they will continue their mobilizations, signalling that while the proposed reforms are a step in the right direction, the road to satisfying the agricultural sector’s demands is long.

These proposals represent a nuanced approach to a complex set of challenges, reflecting the government’s intention to listen to and address the needs of the farming community. However, only time will tell if these measures will be sufficient to quell the unrest and lead to sustainable improvements in the 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.

Comments


    • Linda Mark

      18 February 2024 • 05:06

      What the Spanish government needs to do is not attend any WEF conferences, follow no more ridiculous farming plans from the unelected EU leaders. Just run your farms with common sense, ensure that your farmers get paid for the food they provide, it makes me very angry when supermarkets can make more profit per unit selling farm products than the actual farmer does for working hard to produce the food.

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