The relations of farmers and ranchers with the Government of Pedro Sanchez they are not going through their prime. The Executive of PSOE and United We Can opened with the largest mobilizations in years in the sector against low prices at origin in the face of the continuous escalation of costs. The Covid imposed a mandatory truce, which was helped by a timely ‘express’ reform of the Food Chain Law by the Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas. In it, it was guaranteed that no agricultural product would be sold below the cost of production, in what the socialist leader called «Rebalancing» of relationships within the value chain. However, despite the calm fostered
Due to the fight against the pandemic and the commitment of the sector to guarantee the supply of food during the health emergency, the controversies have been accumulating. Even the Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas, has been in the position of having to publicly disavow a colleague from the Council of Ministers. For example, during this year and a half there have been notable differences of opinion with the Minister of Consumption Alberto Garzon.
Precisely to Garzón’s controversial statements about meat consumption are added other conflicts such as the protection of the wolf promoted by the Ministry of Ecological Transition of Teresa Ribera; the tense relationship with the Ministry of Labor of Yolanda Diaz of a part of the sector on account of some actions of the Labor Inspectorate – the high point was reached in May 2020 when a manual of the Labor Inspectorate was leaked in which it was urged to detect “Cases of labor exploitation” or from “slavery” – and the VAT hike to sugary and sweetened beverages from 10 to 21%, approved in the General Budgets of 2021.
The rise in taxes on sugar degenerated into the rebellion of the entire sugar sector together with the Junta de Castilla y León plus dozens of municipalities against the Minister of Finance Maria Jesus Montero, which sought with this measure the collection of 400 million euros extra during this year. In line with the above, the National Federation of Irrigation Communities (Fenacore) has recognized today his tiredness with the management of the Fourth Vice Presidency. Especially with regard to water planning and non-compliance around the double pricing, which they estimate would lower the irrigators’ electricity bill by 20%. A reform approved in the ‘Drought Law’ of 2018 and included in the current General State Budgets (PGE). Nor does it help what they have crossed out as “Environmental extremism” in reference to policies such as ecological channels and lack of investment. Along these lines, they estimate that only 19% of the investments foreseen in the previous hydrological plans have been executed.
“A part of the government gets on the phone”
For his part, to questions from ABC, the president of Asaja Pedro Barato, has acknowledged that “a part of the Government, at least, is on the phone” in reference to the Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas. While he regrets that other members of the Executive (especially of the United We Can share), suffer from “Ignorance of the agricultural and rural sector”. In a similar vein, from the irrigators, the relationship with Agriculture is dismissed as “very fluid”.
Harder is the popular spokeswoman in the Committee on Agriculture, Milagros Marcos who speaks directly “contempt” towards the field by the Government and «From a cheap support» towards the sector. As an example, he denounces that direct aid from the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) is budgeted this year 138 million less and that, in 2020, this item will have 200 million euros less. He also denounces that within the Recovery Plan, of the 40,000 million budgeted for 2022 “Agriculture only receives 300 million” and remember that farmers and ranchers represent up to 12% of the Spanish GDP.
The popular leader has introduced in the current process of amendments to the General Budgets, amendments for an amount of 5,000 million euros to finance the modernization of irrigation. Measures that have been met with the refusal of the Government.