Discussions amongst Heads of States on the EU budget have prompted reactions from Spain’s farmers and environmentalists alike. After all it’s the budget for agriculture that is at stake.
On one hand 3000 farmers reacted to UPA’s call for action; gathering in Madrid on February 7th to protest against budget cuts. Their message to Brussels and President Rajoy was that “the rural world cannot even take one more cut” as costs of production have risen while products are sold at lower prices.
At the same time COAG stressed that a 14% budget cut for farming would mean 6.040 milions euros instead of 7000 milions of euros for the period between 2014-2020. “We oppose this cut cathegorically as it presents a blow to a strategic sector of the economy that has already seen a 30% loss of income in the last decade alone,” stated Miguel Blanco General Secretary of COAG.
On the other hand, Spain’s Minister of Agriculture Miguel Arias Cañete, assured that his country’s priority is to defend the CAP budget and to maintain a system coupled to production. He assured that he would be asking for more flexibility on “greening” and demand that crop diversification and ecological focus areas should only be applied only to farms with 20 hectares or more.
Spain’s organic production sector in Spain (SEAE) sent a letter to President Rajoy requesting him to defend mandatory “greening” and to reject any disproportionate budget cuts for Pillar 2. A post-2013 CAP should support a transition towards greater sustainability and a revival of the rural areas “as EU taxpayers we will only accept an agricultural budget that responds to such challenges.”
Environmental organisations such as WWF and SEO/Birldlife Spain also addressed a letter to President Rajoy, demanding an EU budget that leads to green jobs and truly embraces the natural environment with its biodiversity and natural resources. Spain should focus on a model that promotes rural development, instead of advocating direct payments with unclear objectives.