Farmers are at the limit. «To the limit of profitability, to the limit of their forces, to the limit of continuing their work or throwing in the towel», the associations of the sector claim. This is the reality suffered by the hundreds of thousands of families that are dedicated to food production in Spain. After some very hard years of crisis, and after four years of recovery, 2019 was a step backwards for the Spanish countryside, which can no longer and has exploded against the Government. The bad employment data This week’s acquaintances have been the tip for a sector that has begun to mobilize to try to find a lifeguard on a ship that capsizes and waters. Such is the level of tension that yesterday, in Don Benito (Badajoz), a demonstration at the gates of an agricultural fair that was to be inaugurated by Minister Luis Planas ended up with police charges and several injured.
The situation that the sector is going through is extremely fragile, hit by the low prices They receive for their products. With profitability to the limit in many farms, the two latest increases in the minimum wage driven by Pedro Sánchez in 2019 and 2020 they are the drop that has filled the glass. In fact, the own Extremadura president, the socialist Guillermo Fernández Vara, has demanded a meeting with the new Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz (Podemos), to analyze the impact that the rise in the Minimum Interprofessional Salary (SMI) has been able to have on the increase in unemployment in the region. Not surprisingly, the number of unemployed has increased in the community in the last quarter by 18,700 people, 19%.
The Agriculture was the only sector that destroyed employment last year (-31,700), which also means a change in trend. After the crisis, since the end of 2015 agricultural occupation rose for four years, so the fall of 2019 is the first in five years. The same goes for the number of unemployed, which after four years of declines rose last year by 11,000 people. The rise in the minimum wage especially affects agriculture, as it is the sector with the highest percentage of employees with this type of salary. According to Working Commissions (which together with UGT have downplayed the impact of the recent wage increase), 44% of farm workers charge the SMI, compared to 11% in Services, 5% in Construction and 4% in Industry. With Sánchez in La Moncloa the SMI has gone from 736 euros gross in 14 payments to 950 euros, and points to 1,200 euros in 2023.
Fernández Vara went yesterday with Planas to Agroexpo, the Don Benito fair in front of which up to 10,000 farmers demonstrated. The incidents arrived when the protesters broke the security cordon to try to access the inside of the fairgrounds, also throwing oil bottles, which caused the National Police charges. Due, 16 agents and three protesters were slightly injured, according to the Government Delegation. The minister, who has just plugged his chief of staff in Rome, said he understands “the concern of many of the farmers and ranchers” in the situation they face and the low prices of production, although he recalled that “neither the regional administration nor can the national set any price, ”reports Efe.
From the main agricultural organizations (UPA, COAG and Asaja) they have planned a mobilization calendar for the next weeks. Their main complaints are three: the lack of fair prices, since “the large distribution and industries are few and powerful, and the farmers are many and weak”; the cuts in public aid and the imposition of trade barriers such as the Russian veto, Brexit or Trump tariffs; and the rise in production costs, including the SMI. «Farmers and ranchers do not have the capacity to transfer this increase to the price of their products and they are forced to sell below their costs. This drowns the producers in a bleeding way, sinking their possibilities for the future and leading to the closure of many farms, ”they affirm.