Spain: The Andalusian countryside rises

Agricultural organizations and cooperatives reject the decree approved yesterday by the Council of Ministers, which brings forward the planned cut to Andalusia for 2023 in the CAP.

The Andalusian countryside will resume the mobilizations that took place last year, and that were paralyzed by the pandemic, due to a new controversy that has its origin in the decision of the Minister of Agriculture, the Cordovan Luis Planas, to implement this year a change in the distribution of European funds that will be a new blow to this sector in this community.

Yesterday’s Council of Ministers approved a royal decree that brings forward to this year the so-called convergence of European aid from the CAP which was to enter into force in 2023, which involves a redistribution of funds that will especially harm Andalusia, the main Spanish agricultural community with 34% of Spanish farmers or 40% of Spanish exports.

Specifically, this redistribution towards aid more linked to the area -single payment- than to the historical aid to production that will regulate the years 2021 and 2022, coupled with other measures, may involve “losses of almost 50% for Andalusian agriculture”, as explained by the president of Asaja AndalucĂ­a, Ricardo Serra. That is, just under 600 of the 1,500 million euros received by farmers and ranchers in the community in direct aid from the CAP.

Until now, Andalusia received slightly more than the average of Spain per hectare (226 euros compared to 144 euros of the national average) thanks to its productivity and competitiveness, achieved after their investments to renew the sector. However, this has not really translated into a higher income per farmer, which, according to data from the Board, stands at 5,000 euros in Andalusia, compared to a national average of 6,500 euros per farmer – in some communities, up to 10,000 euros.

This is largely due to the small size of Andalusian farms, with an average of 17.5 hectares compared to almost 50 hectares of the national average. “The production system of the Andalusian countryside has a much more familiar and social model, which creates jobs, which fixes population and is also demonstrating its quality,” explains the secretary general of COAG, Miguel Lopez.

The Minister of Agriculture of the Board, Carmen Crespo, yesterday lamented the approval of a decree that considers that “punishes the good farmer, those who have invested in innovation and in making their productions sustainable”. The Andalusian representative insists that the EU is not demanding a sudden convergence of the common agricultural policy (CAP) as the one being promoted by Minister Planas, and stresses the unanimous commitment of the agricultural sector and the Board for a “slower and gradual” convergence that allows farmers and ranchers to adapt to the new framework in a couple of years.

The Andalusian Agricultural Interlocution Table, formed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Asaja, COAG, UPA and Agrifood Cooperatives of Andalusia, sent a few days ago a letter in which unanimously demand to continue applying the current model of convergence and strongly rejects the unilateral decision of the ministry to accelerate the current process, “breaking the climate of dialogue and consensus with which to address the discussions of the future model of the CAP”. The Andalusian Government has regretted that it is trying to impose a hidden flat rate, through an accelerated process of convergence.

In this regard, Crespo has pointed out that, while the ministry now recognizes that 1% of farmers will lose more than 20% of direct income support in the first year, says nothing about the losses they will suffer in the second year or those who will no longer enter 15%, 17% or 19%. “This abrupt convergence is going to cause a transfer of funds between farmers with which we do not agree,” he stressed.

Agricultural organizations and cooperatives denounce that this rule, “very harmful to the social and professional model of agriculture, has been made behind the back of the sector, in full pandemic, with total lack of transparency and without disclosing any data”. Therefore, they announce “forceful mobilizations as soon as covid allows it, ready to reverse this situation”.

For the Andalusian agricultural sector, the approval of this rule is “a serious damage to the social and professional model of agriculture, which is key to the Andalusian economy, and will generate irreversible damage to a productive system that distributes wealth, which generates 90% of agricultural employment, manages the territory and is the one that fixes population in our region”.

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