Following the Spanish farmers’ protests in the streets of Madrid this past November, the government seems to have become aware of the seriousness of the current agricultural situation. In his end of the year press conference, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Head of the Spanish Government, announced the implementation of a “shock” stimulus plan for agriculture.
The plan’s priority task will involve issues concerning agricultural financing, taxes and the sector’s restructuring. These are imperative measures for Spanish agriculture that currently records a €23 billion debt, which keeps deteriorating due to farmers’ plummeting income. According to the three agricultural organizations sponsoring last November protest––Asaja, Coag and Upa––farmers’ income in Spain dropped by 26 percent between 2003 and 2008, while production costs rose by 34 percent.
History repeats itself, as momagri noted this past November1 : As it was the case in France, where agriculture severely suffered from the deterioration of the international situation, which led to the disclosure of an emergency stimulus plan in October, Spain is embarking on an identical path. Similar times call for similar measures. It is now time to address the real causes of the problem––price volatility on international markets and its consequences on national agricultural economies. Besides, France and Spain are not the only countries of the European Union to experience lowered agricultural revenues. According to Eurostat, the European statistical information unit, the average income for Union farmers declined by 12.2 percent in 2009, following a 2,5 percent drop in 2008.
Since January 1, the rotating presidency of the European Union has been assigned to Spain. Let us hope that it will provide the country with the opportunity to support upholding the Common Agricultural Policy, as indicated by the Leader of the Spanish Government when making the announcement of the stimulus plan.
1 Please see momagri’s November 30, 2009 article, “Spanish farmers protest at falling income”. www.momagri.org/UK/A-look-at-the-news/Spanish-farmers-protest-at-falling-income-_592.html