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Photo: COAG (Coordinator of Organizations of Agricultors and Ranchers)

Spain   

Spain   

Farmers protest in Spain, joining counterparts in other EU countries against rising costs and regulations

Marina Vanni,  February 7, 2024

On Tuesday, February 6, Spanish farmers took to the streets driving their tractors and showcasing signs in protest of bureaucratic hurdles, rising costs of fuel and fertilizer, and foreign competition, joining their peers from various European countries.

The demonstrations resulted in the blockade of major highways across the country.

The farmers, organized by associations like ASAJA (Agrarian Association of Young Agricultors) and COAG (Coordinator of Organizations of Agricultors and Ranchers), voiced frustration with the burden of regulations imposed by the EU, which they consider unflexible and argue hinder their competitiveness compared to producers in regions like Latin America or non-EU Europe.

In addition to regulatory frustrations, farmers pointed fingers at large retailers, accusing them of market manipulation and politicians of neglecting their interests in favor of big chains.

The situation in the country has been exacerbated by factors like drought, with the Agriculture Ministry announcing an additional aid package of 269 million euros to support struggling farmers afected by adverse weather conditions and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The protests in Spain are part of a broader wave against rising costs and lower benefits sweeping through Europe. Farmers in countries like Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania have all voiced their grievances in recent weeks, sometimes leading to violent clashes.

Regionally, farmers have raised concerns about issues ranging from competition from cheaper imports to the impact of climate regulations. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), along with high fuel and energy costs, has been particularly contentious. Nevertheless, some environmental groups have argued that certain petitions, such as cheaper fertilizers, go against the EU’s net-zero and green objectives.

The demonstrations may have broader political implications. Right-wing parties in several European countries have sought to capitalize on the discontent, framing the demonstrations as part of a broader backlash against the EU’s policies, particularly its climate agenda.

A large protest is planned for the end of February in Madrid, Spain.

Author: Marina Vanni

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