The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, has announced that to pass a bill “imminently” to complete the changes already approved in the Food Chain Law that seeks to address the situation in the field. and, in this way, transpose the European directive on bad commercial practices. Before a chamber, once again, practically empty, Planas has advanced that prepares new measures to improve the functioning of the food chain, as it has been promising since the mobilizations began in late January.
In the debate to validate the decree law with emergency measures to respond to the demands of farmers and ranchers for the crisis in the countryside, approved on February 25, Planas has recognized the importance of the sector in the current crisis and has said that “for their good work” all products are reaching citizens practically “normally”.
The decree contemplates, as Planas recalled, that it is obliged to include the cost of production, to expressly indicate the agreed cost, prohibits selling at a loss, regulates commercial promotions of farm products, publicizes sanctions and, in addition, tightens them. For example, not writing down the terms of a contract becomes a mild to serious infringement. In this sense, the royal decree that has endorsed the Congress also provides for the publicity of the sanctions and that the prices at which they sell the products to the industry are never lower than the production costs.
Commercial promotions are also regulated to prevent them from becoming “Deceitful” and contribute to “trivialize” the product. And it includes fiscal measures, such as facilitating the taxation of first farm aid for young farmers by extending the period from one to four years. Similarly, the number of peonies necessary to access the so-called agrarian subsidy in Andalusia and Extremadura from 35 to 20 peonies and the conversion of temporary contracts to discontinued fixed ones was encouraged.
Telematic Council of Agriculture
In another order of things, Planas has also held a videoconference meeting with its European counterparts to analyze the situation created by the coronavirus. In it, the head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has explained that the primary sector and the agri-food industry maintain their activity despite the statement of alarm status. In this sense, he has signaled the appearance of problems in some sectors due to the drop in sales such as that of cut flowers and that of lamb meat after the closure of the hotel business and the cancellation of events such as Easter.
The minister has also pointed out the difficulties that the closing of borders, to avoid the pandemic spread, is generating the entry of community and non-community workers to participate in the different harvesting campaigns, as well as the complex situation facing the fishing sector, which is already noticing the drop in prices for some products. In addition, Planas has expressed its concern that the Commission guarantees trade in agri-food products with third countries.
In any case, the head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has put several demands on the table regarding the palpable economic deterioration. On the CAP (Common Agrarian Policy) has asked that the “Exceptional measures” planned at community level for activities such as cut flowers or lamb meat producers. He has also asked that the regulation be modified to take into account the current one “force majeure” situation in the processing of direct aid from the CAP and prevent countries like Spain from losing EU funds.
In this sense, the European Commission has already delayed the period to process this aid Until 15 June and the Government extended the term until May 15 last Saturday.
Regarding the fishing sector, Planas has also thanked Brussels for planning an increase in State or de minimis aidAlthough he has recognized that this is insufficient. In a letter sent last week to Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius Planas he asked for measures such as storage aid in the face of falling prices or he supported the transfer of fishing quotas to 2021. He also called for a reform of the regulation that regulates the European Fund Maritime and Fisheries (FEMP) to introduce the “cause of force majeure” and allow immediate aid to the sector during the crisis caused by the coronavirus.