Spain: Farmers cut traffic with tractors in protest

Farmers say their economic situation today is the worst in last 50 years

Alyssa McMurtry   | 14.02.2020
Spain: Farmers cut traffic with tractors in protest FILE PHOTO

OVIEDO, Spain 

Thousands of furious farmers took to the streets across Spain on Friday to protest a continued decrease in profits and to demand systematic change in the industry. 

Tractors brought urban traffic to a halt in Valencia and cut off highways in Andalusia.

The action was organized by a number of agricultural unions, cooperatives, producers, and small towns which say Spanish farmers are being inhumanely squeezed by distributors, big supermarket chains and government policies.

“This isn’t just a crisis, we are standing before a rural collapse if there isn’t a structural change. Family producers… are going to disappear,” Pere Roque, president of the Asaja Union, said at the protest in Lleida, Catalonia.

The problem faced by Spanish farmers is dire, he said, the worst of the last 50 years.

The modern agricultural system is highly complex, but one of the main complaints is stagnating prices for producers.

Despite the price of fruit and vegetables increasing by around 8% last year for Spanish consumers, the producers say what they are currently receiving in the market is not enough to cover their costs.

Unions are demanding that the government step in to stop harmful practices in supermarkets, like selling below market value and to re-examine free trade agreements. They also want larger insurance funds in the case of agricultural disasters.

This year has also seen massive protests by farmers in countries like France and Germany.

Spain is the fourth-largest EU exporter of agricultural products and the industry makes up around 17.7% of the country’s economy, according to the Spanish Agriculture Ministry.

Several Spanish agricultural unions said they will continue striking and protesting until their demands are met.

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