COAG warns against the “uberization” of the Spanish countryside




The agricultural organization COAG has warned in the report “Essentials: Spanish agriculture in the face of calamities that affect National Security” against what it considers the “Uberization” of the field: The document warns against the dangers that, in his opinion, the growing weight of multinationals in food production has for food safety – both European and Spanish. Specifically, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture, in Spain there are one million agricultural holdings of which 93.4% have a physical owner per6.6% owned by a company (65,000 companies). Well, this last group already generates 42% of the value of agricultural production.

In his opinion, the food system is too important to be left to the mercy of an unregulated market. If we measure it in “Economic Dimension” (DE estimating the standard production of each farm, this stands at 42,000 euros on average, but if we only consider legal persons the average SD shoots up to 271,000 euros. With the addition that the average age of the physical holders (people) of agricultural holdings usually exceed 60 years.

For the secretary general of COAG, Miguel Blanco, the social and professional model of agriculture is in danger “in the face of the concentration of production and creation of oligopolies, which stimulate the entry of investment funds ». Blanco believes it would have “devastating” consequences to leave agricultural production and food “in the hands of others” and more, in the current context of the pandemic. As an example, he cites what happened with the initial supply of sanitary material (masks, PPE, hydroalcoholic gel …) due to the strong dependence on China and the low production of these materials in Spain. What resulted in a strong cost in lives and economic.

In terms of jobs, the agricultural sector occupies according to the Labor Force Survey (EPA) to 750,000 people – 4% of all employment in Spain- and when this data is crossed with those of the Social Security, agricultural entrepreneurs would be around 330,000 in Spain, of which approximately 265,000 would be natural persons registered in the autonomous regime or in SETA (Special System for Self-Employed Agrarian Workers)

COAG also echoes in its report two recent documents of the European Parliament (July and October 2020) in which it speaks of “the growing concentration of agricultural production towards oligopolies » and it warns against the “disappearance” of the European model of agriculture whose consequences would lead to depopulation of rural areas, environmental and cultural degradation. In addition to increasing rural unemployment.

Weaknesses of the Spanish countryside

In the same way, this agrarian organization has put on the table the main weaknesses that, in its opinion, the Spanish countryside suffers: low profitability of farms smaller size, increasingly high production costs compared to third countries in the face of decreasing income, the weakness of producers compared to other links in the food chain such as distribution, little digitization, external dependence on certain raw materials for animal feeding or competition from third-country imports of poorer quality but at a much lower price.

In this sense, they propose to reinforce the market regulation mechanisms within the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) or an inclusive digitization.

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